Expungement is a hot topic in the area of criminal law as many people are misinformed about its definition and when it applies. For example, contrary to popular belief, expungements are not available for charges and arrests. They only come into play when an individual is found guilty and convicted of a crime. Even still, expungement statutes present additional variations depending on the state in which you are convicted. The plea you make during your arraignment can also affect your access to expungement. Expungement rules as they pertain to DUI convictions in Mississippi present similar complexities for clients.
What is Expungement?
An expungement is a court process whereby a conviction is destroyed or sealed from state and federal criminal records. An expungement grants reprieve to the convicted person and has the effect of making the crime and conviction as though it never occurred. Every state has different expungement laws, and availability depends on many factors including type of crime committed, class of crime (felony, misdemeanor), or sentence given. If you seek to obtain an expungement for a DUI conviction in Mississippi, you must fit into a narrow set of requirements. Therefore, qualifying for expungement for a DUI conviction in Mississippi is not as simple or available as some may perceive.
Does My DUI Conviction Qualify for Expungement Under Mississippi Law?
To qualify for expungement under Mississippi state law, your conviction for DUI must be a first offense. You cannot hold a commercial driver's license or learner's permit. If you meet those requirements, then you can petition the circuit court in which the conviction occurred for an expungement. The person seeking expungement must make the petition at least five years after completing all conditions of the sentence imposed. When reviewing the petition, the court will only grant expungement to a person:
Who did not refuse a blood or breathalyzer test
Whose blood alcohol content was below .16%
Who has not been convicted of any other DUI offenses
Who provides proper justification for the removal of the conviction
In Mississippi, each person is eligible for only one expunction for a DUI conviction. Even though records are removed from criminal record databases, they are still maintained on a confidential registry for the purpose of determining eligibility under the first offender rule.
Is Nonadjudication a Better Option for Me?
Another mechanism used to remove DUI convictions in Mississippi is called nonadjudication. Unlike expungement, the person accused of the offense can seek nonadjudication before a conviction is even handed down. Nonadjudication withholds guilt in the case of a first DUI offense for a person. If the person successfully completes several conditions imposed by the court, a DUI conviction never makes it onto the defendant's record.
Need Legal Assistance with a DUI Case?
Mississippi attorney, James Robert Ferguson, is an experienced DUI attorney who is ready to defend you. He understands the complexities of Mississippi DUI laws and he will guide you through the process in a diligent manner. Contact us for a consultation today.
See related blog posts:
Mississippi DUI: Should I Hire an Attorney for a First Offense?
Mississippi DUI Penalties