Non-Disclosure and/or Expungement of Federal Criminal Records– Eligibility

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Jun 29, 2022

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The disposition of your case (a.k.a. – your conviction) may be sealed or expunged if you have been put on pre-judgment probation for certain drug offenses.

Sealing your record of disposition – If you are charged with a simple possession offense as described in section 404 of the Controlled Substances Act, and:

  1. You have no prior convictions of any other state or federal law relating to controlled substances;
  2. You have no prior history before the court for this present charge, and
  3. You agree to plead guilty to the offense charged, then: the court may place you on probation for up to 1 year without entering a judgment of conviction.

At any time before the end of your probation, if you have not violated a condition of your probation, the court may dismiss the proceedings against you and discharge you from probation without ever actually entering in your conviction. Similarly, at the end of your probationary term, if you have not violated a condition of your probation, the court shall, without entering a judgment of conviction, dismiss the proceedings against you. If you do not successfully complete your probation, the court will go forward with sentencing since you will have already pleaded guilty to the offense.

Once you complete your probation, the record of your conviction will be sealed (made non-public) by the court. In other words, your case will be shown as dismissed so it will not be considered a conviction. However, a non-public record of your conviction will be kept by the Department of Justice solely to determine your eligibility for expungement if you go to court again.

Expunging your record of disposition – If you were charged with simple possession, but you were under 21 years old at the time, then you can petition for an expungement order. The Attorney General will dismiss the proceedings against you after 3 years have passed, as long as:

  1. You never received a civil penalty for the crime;
  2. You have paid the penalty;
  3. You have complied with any conditions imposed by the Attorney General;
  4. You have not been convicted of any federal or state offense relating to a controlled substance; and
  5. You agree to submit to a drug test, and the test is negative (meaning that you are drug free).

If the case against you was based on a law that has been found to be unconstitutional, or if a judge finds that the conviction was the result of government misconduct, the Attorney General will immediately expunge your record of conviction.

Once an expungement is granted, all official records (except those kept by the Department of Justice as explained above), all references to your arrest for the offense, and the results of any criminal proceedings against you be expunged, that is, destroyed. If then asked, you can then lawfully deny that you have ever been arrested for and/or convicted of the offense.

For more information, visit the following topics:

Federal Expunging of Criminal Records: An Overview: snapshots the type of relief for getting an expungement of a federal conviction.

Process: discusses the federal application procedure and process.

Hiring an Attorney: discusses the reasons it makes sense to hire an attorney with knowledge and experience in expunging federal criminal records rather than representing yourself.

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