Sealing and Expunging Criminal Records in Louisiana
In Louisiana, a criminal record is public information; as such, anyone can look up criminal records in the state. As part of the administrative process, most employers conduct a criminal background check for current and prospective employees. However, criminal history information often proves deterrence when ex-offenders seek housing or employment. Louisiana state laws provide these persons with an opportunity to restrict such records from public disclosure. Anyone directly affected by a damaging criminal record can apply to have them removed from public access.
The Difference Between Sealing and Expunging Criminal Records Louisiana
Sealing and expunging criminal records in Louisiana mean two different things. While sealing a record refers to restricting access to only eligible persons, these records still have legal and administrative value. Expungement refers to the complete deletion of criminal records from the legal system. Although an expunged record may maintain its administrative value, it has no legal weight. While an involved individual has a right to claim innocence of a criminal past, state licensing boards such as those for social work, child care, law, financial positions, and healthcare can still see expunged records. They are also available to Law enforcement agencies upon a written request. However, private agencies and employers wishing to view them must show good cause or get a court order to access them.
Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching more straightforward, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:
- The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
- The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in
Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.
How to Seal a Criminal Record in Louisiana
Louisiana state laws provide sealing options only for juvenile records. Juvenile records are under seal by law and are accessible only by eligible persons or with a court order. There are no provisions for the sealing of adult criminal records in Louisiana.
What Crimes Can Be Expunged in Louisiana?
The crimes eligible for expungement in Louisiana include dismissals, acquittals, and non-convictions. The court grants expungement provided that the affected individual has met the following requirements:
- There are no pending convictions aside from minor traffic citations
- There are no pending investigations
- The individual has paid all fines and restitution
- The waiting period is complete
The waiting period for misdemeanors is five years. Misdemeanor convictions attract 15 years of waiting, while DUI convictions attract ten years of waiting. Felony convictions must wait for 15 years.
The following do not qualify for expungement in Louisiana:
- Violent crimes
- All sex crimes
- Distribution of dangerous controlled substances
- The misdemeanor offense of domestic abuse
- The misdemeanor offense of stalking
- Crimes against minors
How to Expunge Criminal Records in Louisiana
There is a list of forms that persons seeking expungement must fill out. Visit the Louisiana Clerk of Court Association and locate the Expungement Forms Index. Requestors may also find them at the Law Library of Louisiana, Louisiana State Bar Association’s Legal Education and Assistance Program.
The requesting party must then complete and get all necessary documents ready and then contact the local courthouse clerk with current jurisdiction on the case for more information.
Subsequently, the requestor must file the petition, including all required documents and forms, with the court clerk. As well as get a copy of the criminal record from the State of Louisiana within 30 days of filing the petition. Also, they must pay the required expungement fee of $550. Some cases may require more, bringing it to $700. Fees are not waivable unless the petitioner qualifies for a fee waiver. Fee waivers are for persons with no other convictions anywhere in the US, no pending felony charges, or non-conviction cases. Fill out and submit the Certification for Fee Waiver Form to the local District Attorney (DA). The DA must consent to the waiver. Submit this consent along with the petition for expungement.
It takes about 60 days to get a response after filing. For persons who qualify, they may not get a hearing. It would require waiting for another 30 to 60 days to receive a certificate of compliance from the Louisiana State Police. The certificate of compliance means that the expungement was successful. If there are objections to eligibility, then there will be a court hearing. Upon approval of the petition, the requestor must notify all private background check companies in the States about the expungement. Louisiana law is mandatory to send a certified copy of the expungement order using certified mail to each background check company. Upon receiving it, the company is obliged to decline any request to release an expunged record.
Do Sealed Records Show up In Louisiana Background Checks?
Adult criminal records in Louisiana do not get a sealing approval unless state statutes seal the record. If the state’s laws seal up certain information in criminal records, they will be invisible in background checks.
Who Can See Sealed Criminal Records in Louisiana?
The court authorities and law enforcement agencies can see sealed criminal records in Louisiana. Also, the parties named in the record, their attorneys, and any other person or agency with a court order can see sealed records in Louisiana. This law does not apply to juvenile records. Here, they are entirely unavailable except on court order.
How To Get Sealed Records In Louisiana
There are two ways to get sealed records in Louisiana. The first is to wait out the validity period of the seal. In other words, records under seal become available to the public after some time. It varies from record to record. In some cases, the court places a record under seal for a lifetime. In such a case, only an alternative route can provide access, this being a formal notice of consent from the bearer of the record. Unless the person is eligible by default, they must petition the court to release the document. The court reviews the petition in a hearing and decides, based on the law’s guidelines, whether the petition is credible. The judge decides if a court order should be issued. Common reasons for requesting access to a sealed record is if there is a pending investigation or the requested can prove by law that the record does not qualify for sealing.