In what types of cases can a factual innocence order be obtained?

The types of cases in which you can obtain a factual innocence order vary by state. Of the few states that have enacted laws allowing for a petition of factual innocence, most do not have restrictions on cases within a certain category of their penal code. So, technically speaking, you could potentially get an order of factual innocence in just about any case including burglary, robbery, drug sales, gun charges, and even domestic violence accusations.

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Do I need a lawyer to file a petition for factual innocence?

Strictly speaking, you are not required to have a lawyer to file a petition for factual innocence, anyone has the right to represent himself or herself. However, because the opportunity to petition in this way is a relatively new body of law, you will need a lawyer to help you understand the meaning and requirements of your petition. Not having a lawyer to represent you in your petition for factual innocence could weigh against your success.

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Under what circumstances can a factual innocence finding be obtained?

There are two general categories of circumstances where a factual innocence finding can be obtained. The first category is where you have been falsely arrested, charged, accused, or convicted of a crime. The second type of circumstance in which you can obtain a factual innocence finding is where you are the victim of identity theft.

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Does a factual innocence order automatically expunge my record?

Before talking to a prospective employer about your criminal history, you should first make sure that your record was actually expunged. In some states, your factual innocence order does not automatically expunge your criminal or consumer history. For example, in Illinois, it is your responsibility to forward copies of your factual innocence order to any agencies that possess your criminal history information. This includes law enforcement and consumer reporting agencies. Many people only think of law enforcement agencies. However, many consumer reporting agencies now purchase and include criminal history information in their consumer reports.

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What happens if I establish factual innocence?

If you establish factual innocence, the court and law enforcement agencies involved in your charge seal and destroy records relating to the offense. The act seems similar to, but is legally different from an expungement. There is a waiting period between the granting of your petition and the destruction of records. The waiting period varies according to the state, and can be up to several years after establishing factual innocence.

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