Attorney Gino Forte

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Louisiana Law Regarding Expungement of Criminal Records

Expungement is the process of removing the record of an arrest and/or conviction from public view.   The records are kept under lock and key, and can only be examined at the request of a law enforcement agency.  Destruction of the record is actually a different animal, whereby the records are actually destroyed.  The terms “expungement” and “destruction” cannot be used interchangeably.

If convicted of a misdemeanor, you may file a formal motion with the Court of the Parish where you were prosecuted or in the Parish where you were arrested, if seeking expungement of your arrest record.

In filing the Motion and Order for Expungement, you must also pay fees for the following:

District Attorney office (typically $50)
Clerk of Court (depends on Parish, but generally $50-$100)
Louisiana State Police, Bureau of Criminal Identification ($250).  If the Court does not grant your expungement, this amount will be refunded to you.
Arresting Agency (such as St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Office, $50 charge)

If you were arrested but never prosecuted and not placed into a pretrial “diversion program,” then you can seek expungement without the above payments to the Bureau of Criminal Identification, DA or arresting agency.

Misdemeanors involving sexual acts or acts of domestic violence are generally not eligible for expungement.

If you have been arrested for a felony, you may also file a Motion to expunge the arrest record, if the DA did not prosecute the case or you were acquitted.  Typically, the DA will sign off on your motion as “unopposed” and no hearing will be required in that situation. The law regarding expungement of felony records has been recently revised effective: August 1, 2014. LSA-C.Cr.P. Art. 978 (formerly cited as LA R.S. 44:9) provides that
A. Except as provided in Paragraph B of this Article, a person may file a motion to expunge his record of arrest and conviction of a felony offense if either of the following apply:
(1) The conviction was set aside and the prosecution was dismissed pursuant to Article 893(E) of this Code.
(2) More than ten years have elapsed since the person completed any sentence, deferred adjudication, or period of probation or parole based on the felony conviction, and the person has not been convicted of any other criminal offense during the ten-year period, and has no criminal charge pending against him. The motion filed pursuant to this Subparagraph shall include a certification obtained from the district attorney which verifies that, to his knowledge, the applicant has no convictions during the ten-year period and no pending charges under a bill of information or indictment.
B. No expungement shall be granted nor shall a person be permitted to file a motion to expunge the record of arrest and conviction of a felony offense if the person was convicted of the commission or attempted commission of any of the following offenses:
(1) Unless otherwise permissible under Article 893(E) of this Code, a crime of violence as defined by or enumerated in R.S. 14:2(B).
(2)(a) Notwithstanding any provision of Article 893 of this Code, a sex offense or a criminal offense against a victim who is a minor as each term is defined by R.S. 15:541, or any offense which occurred prior to June 18, 1992, that would be defined as a sex offense or a criminal offense against a victim who is a minor had it occurred on or after June 18, 1992.
(b) Any person who was convicted of carnal knowledge of a juvenile (R.S. 14:80) prior to August 15, 2001, is eligible for an expungement pursuant to the provisions of this Title if the offense for which the offender was convicted would be defined as misdemeanor carnal knowledge of a juvenile (R.S. 14:80.1) had the offender been convicted on or after August 15, 2001. The burden is on the mover to establish that the elements of the offense of conviction are equivalent to the current definition of misdemeanor carnal knowledge of a juvenile as defined by R.S. 14:80.1. A copy of the order waiving the sex offender registration and notification requirements issued pursuant to the provisions of R.S. 15:542(F) shall be sufficient to meet this burden.
(3) Unless otherwise permissible under Article 893(E) of this Code, a violation of the Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Law, except that a conviction for possession of a controlled dangerous substance as provided for in R.S. 40:966(C), 967(C), 968(C), or 969(C), or a conviction for possession of a controlled dangerous substance with the intent to distribute may be expunged pursuant to the provisions of this Title.
C. The motion to expunge a record of arrest and conviction of a felony offense shall be served pursuant to the provisions of Article 979 of this Code.
D. Expungement of a record of arrest and conviction of a felony offense shall occur only once with respect to any person during a fifteen-year period.

After a hearing before the Court, with the DA and arresting agency present, the Court may order expungement of a record of felony conviction dismissed under Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure Article 893. 

There can be no expungement of the record of arrest or conviction for a sex offense involving a child under the age of 17. 

You are generally allowed one expungement within a 5-year period (10 years for a DWI). 

Records which have been expunged are generally treated as if they never existed, but the record can be reviewed by the following agencies/boards if you are applying for admittance to these professions:

Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners
Louisiana State Board of Nursing
Louisiana State Board of Dentistry
Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists
Louisiana State Board of Social Work Examiners
Emergency Medical Services Certification Commission
Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board
Office of Disciplinary Counsel
Louisiana Supreme Court Committee on Bar Admissions

Altogether, the administrative and filing fees associated with the expungement may be around $400.  You should be able to obtain forms from your local Clerk of Court office to complete the expungement.  As a licensed Louisiana attorney, I can represent you in your expungement proceeding for a reasonable hourly fee.   

There are some other intricacies to this law and it will only benefit you to bring your specific situation to a Louisiana attorney.  Considering how a criminal record can haunt you personally, professionally and financially, the expungement is a wise investment in your future.

Federal LawIf you were convicted or plead guilty in federal court, there is currently no federal statute which allows for the expungement of criminal records within the federal system.  There have been only rare instances of federal courts granting expungements on "equitable" grounds.  Legislation has been introduced in Congress to give ex-offenders the opportunity to expunge records of one-time, non-violent offenses.  However, that legislation has not been signed into law.