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What is Expungement?

Expungement (also called "expunction") is a court-ordered process in which the legal record of an arrest or a criminal conviction is "sealed," or erased in the eyes of the law. When a conviction is expunged, the process may also be referred to as "setting aside a criminal conviction."

Who are Eligible for Expungement?

In Kentucky, if you were found not guilty or charges were dismissed with prejudice and did not exchange for a guilty plea, you may petition for expungement. This includes destruction of arrest records, fingerprints, photographs, index references and other data, including electronic data. You have 60 days following acquittal or dismissal to file.

If your misdemeanor or violation resulted in dismissed or amended charges, you are eligible for an expungement of records. You should be informed of this right concurrent with the adjudication. The petition must be filed no sooner than five years after probation is complete.

Effective July 15, 2016, certain Class D felony convictions can be expunged as a result of the 2016 General Assembly passing House Bill 40. HB 40 creates a process that permits a defendant to file an application to have his or her conviction vacated and expunged. If the court grants the application, the original judgment will be vacated and the charges dismissed. Records in the custody of any other agency or official, including law enforcement records, will be expunged.

Who are not Eligible for Expungement?

There are certain situations that preclude you from seeking expungement:
  • If the offense was a sex offense committed against a child
  • You have a prior felony conviction (except for Class D Drug Felonies)
  • You have been convicted of other violation offenses and misdemeanors in the five years leading up to the petition for expungement
  • You have not sought prior expungement attempts since conviction
  • No pending proceedings exist against you
  • The offense was outside of the Commonwealth of Kentucky

How Long Do Misdemeanors stay on your record?

Although, the punishments tend to have much lighter sentences, like felonies, they stay on your record for life.

Can I clear my driving record and traffic violations?

Traffic violations, such as parking and speeding tickets, may not be expunged at this time. You must be charged with a criminal offense, not just a traffic violation.

What is Bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy is a federal court process designed to help consumers and businesses eliminate their debts or repay them under the protection of the bankruptcy court.

What is the difference between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

Chapter 7- is asking the Bankruptcy Court to discharge most debts you owe.
Chapter 13 – filing a payment plan with the Bankruptcy court to pay back all or a portion of your debts over time.

How Long does Bankruptcy stay on your credit report?

Chapter 7 – 10 years.
Chapter 13 – 7 years.

What Is a Bail/Bond?

When someone is arrested for a criminal charge, they are required by law to have a reasonable bond set so they do not have to stay in jail until their case is resolved. The bond system is in place to ensure that a defendant returns to court when they are required to. In theory, if a defendant posts a $500 bond and does not return to court, then he will lose his money. If there are no violations of the bond conditions, the bond money is released when the case has come to a conclusion.

What Are the Different Types of Bail/Bond?

The two general types of bond are secured and unsecured. A secured bond means that you actually post money or property to secure your release. An unsecured bond or surety bond means you sign a document that says you will pay a certain amount of money if the defendant breaks his bond conditions.

What Is an Arraignment?

The arraignment is typically the first appearance in court for a criminal charge. It will consist of the reading or stating to the defendant the substance of the charge and asking the defendant to plead either guilty or not guilty.

What is a Preliminary Hearing?

A preliminary hearing is a hearing conducted in district court where the judge determines if probable cause exists and whether a felony offense was committed. If the judge finds that it probably happened, and they normally do, then he will bind the case over to the grand jury for indictment.

What Is an Indictment?

When a felony charge is presented to the grand jury by the Commonwealth attorney, the grand jury will listen to evidence from the prosecutor about the alleged crime. The grand jury can then indict the defendant, formalizing his charges into felony charges in the circuit court of that county. The defendant will then be arraigned at the circuit court level.

What Is a Misdemeanor?

In general, a misdemeanor is any criminal charge that carries a penalty of less than 12 months of incarceration.

What Is a Felony?

In general, a felony is any criminal charge that carries a penalty of more than 12 months incarceration.

What Are the Different Types of Criminal Trials?

In district court (misdemeanor charges), you can have either a bench trial or a jury trial. A bench trial is conducted in front of the judge of that court, and he or she makes the decision of guilt or innocence alone. A jury trial is decided by a panel of 6 jurors in district court and 12 jurors in circuit court (felony charges).

What Does a Jury Trial Consist Of?

The first phase of a jury trial is called voir dire. Voir dire is the process where a jury is selected from the jury pool. During voir dire the prosecutor and the defense lawyer are allowed to ask questions of the jury pool to determine who can fairly and impartially listen to the evidence without being prejudiced.

Once the jury is selected, the prosecutor is entitled to make an opening statement to the jury to outline his case. The defense attorney then has an opportunity to make their opening statement. Following the opening statements, the prosecution presents their evidence by calling witnesses to testify. The defense attorney has the opportunity to cross-examine all of the witnesses called by the prosecution. When the prosecution is finished presenting their case, the defendant will then call their witnesses to testify, and the prosecution is also allowed to cross-examine these witnesses.

When the defendant concludes their case, closing arguments begin. The defendant is given the right to do closing arguments first, followed by the prosecution. The jury is then asked to consider all of the evidence they heard during the trial and return a decision. If the defendant is found not guilty, then the trial is over. If the jury returns a guilty verdict then the sentencing phase begins. During sentencing the jury will hear arguments from the defendant and the prosecutor. The jury then deliberates again and determines the penalty for the defendant.

Dennie Hardin, Attorney at Law
139 East Tenth Ave
Bowling Green, KY 42101

All major credit cards accepted.
Phone: 270-783-0070
Fax: 270-783-0066

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