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Expungement versus appeal in criminal cases

Criminal cases can impact the entire future of the person who is facing the charges. It is necessary for anyone who is going through this situation to understand some of the differences in the types of proceedings that he or she might be able to go through. For some, the post-conviction process is a bit mystifying.

One important thing to remember is that appeals and expungements are completely different procedures and accomplish different things. An appeal is what you can make to the court if you feel that there were procedural errors made in your case. You might appeal based on ineffective counsel or if the prosecution hides vital evidence in the case that could have led to a different outcome.

Expungement can only be pursued once you have completed the court-imposed sentence successfully. Additionally, this is only possible for specific charges with limited circumstances present. An expungement essentially does away with the conviction on your criminal record. There are some limits to the expungement. For example, some law enforcement officers might be able to pull up an expunged record.

Even though these two possibilities are different, they can lead to a similar outcome. They might both lead to you not having the conviction on your record when a potential employer or landlord does a background check. This could mean the difference between finding a good job or apartment and having to deal with the bottom of the barrel. It can also mean that you won't be labeled a felon for the rest of your life if you are successful in an appeal or expungement of a felony conviction.

Source: FindLaw, "Post-Conviction Proceedings," accessed April 12, 2018

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