Should I Seal My Criminal Record?
State courts have a procedure for allowing a person convicted of certain nonviolent felonies and misdemeanors to petition the court to seal his or her record. This process is known as expungement. The petitioner usually has to have completed with all the requirements of his or her probation and paid all fines. Some convictions require that you wait at least 5 years before requesting that your record be sealed. Most people will hire an attorney to file the petitions and complete the process for them to ensure that the expungement is completed successfully.
Before filing a petition to the court, you may want to ask yourself whether you should seal your record. The answer depends on your reason for wanting to seal your record. Is it for purposes of a job? Is it to apply for housing? Is it so that you can apply for some type of immigration benefit? These are usually the top reasons for doing it.
Seal Criminal Conviction To Apply for Job Opportunities or Housing?
If the reason you want to seal your criminal conviction is to help increase your chances of getting a job or applying for housing, then you should consider filing a petition. Once you have sealed your conviction, you can legally state that you have not been convicted or arrested of a crime when you are interviewing for a job or for housing.
Seal Criminal Conviction To Apply for An Immigration Benefit?
If the reason you want to seal your criminal conviction is so that you can apply for an immigration benefit, for which you would otherwise not qualify, then you should not try to file a petition to seal your record. Immigration laws are very strict on this procedure and USCIS will not approve petitions from those who have been convicted of certain misdemeanors or felonies even if they have sealed their records for this purpose. The reason is because immigration petitions ask that an applicant disclose whether he or she has ever been arrested or convicted of certain misdemeanors or felonies. These immigration petitions include petitions for Legal Permanent Residency or Deferred Action. A person who chooses not to answer truthfully runs the risk of being charged with immigration fraud. When a person files a petition, he or she will have his or her fingerprints taken and compared to records in several databases, one of which will show that there was at least an arrest or some encounter with law enforcement. If the petitioner did not answer truthfully, the petition will be investigated for fraud, which places the petitioner at risk of not only being denied, but permanently barred from applying again in the future. It is a risk not worth taking.
ICE Now Using Criminal Records to Find Illegal Immigrants To Arrest
Since January 1, 2015, ICE has changed its enforcement priorities to look for those with past criminal convictions. Before, ICE was arresting or picking up anyone who was arrested or had no IDs. Now, they are only interested in those who have had at least misdemeanor convictions and felony convictions. The bad news is that they have begun to go to courts in different counties and look over or “scour the records” as they say to look for any misdemeanors no matter how old. The problem is that they are now arresting people who have had at least a DWIs or Domestic Violence convictions that are as old at 10 years or more and taking them to Immigration Detention Centers. It seems they are trying to deport as many people as possible even if they have had taken a plea of pretrial diversion or deferred adjudication. Because of this, some undocumented immigrants are now asking to have their court records sealed to avoid being detected by ICE. This is a legal procedure regardless of the motive so a court will allow a person or an attorney to file a petition to seal it. In the case of an undocumented immigrant, it is best to get a copy of your disposition sheet and criminal record before you seal it, because it may be necessary to prove the type of conviction you had later to immigration officials should the court destroy your record. Once the record is sealed, the information will not be available to anyone who chooses to review all criminal records, the information or charge will not appear on the courthouse records. Before considering this procedure to seal your records, it is best to talk to an immigration attorney who can ensure that your criminal record is preserved in private records for future reference should you be required to produce it for an immigration petition, and can then file a petition to seal your record. The normal processing time in most courts is 3 weeks to seal a record.
Learn more about President Obama’s Deferred Action plan for Parents (DAPA) as well as other immigration changes
TIP OF THE DAY: Keep in mind that there are 5 million people who will be eligible to apply for this new DAPA program. Once USCIS begins accepting applications, (which may be before May 20, 2015) it will be overrun with applicants. So, it will be important to be one of the first to enter your application. You must prepare now so that you are ready to submit your application the day it begins. If you have ever been stopped by police or arrested or held by police or ICE officers, it is important to have an attorney investigate your background to make sure you do not have a problem that will make you ineligible or possibly bring you before an ICE officer. The most common way to get your record from Immigration or Border Patrol is through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. This request can take up to 6 months. It is very important to request this now so that an attorney can review it and determine your eligibility before the program starts. With this new program, a lot of the work will be done by you and your attorney before it begins so that you are not waiting for 6 months or more to get your work permit. Prepare now and start gathering all the information you need to help your case. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our office at (870) 648-1055.
TIP OF THE DAY: Begin to gather all evidence to prove that you have lived continuously in the U.S. since January 1, 2010. This part of the Deferred Action process is the most time-consuming and the easiest part to mess up. The majority of denials are a result of failing to prove continuous presence in the U.S. Examples of proof can include rental receipts, car insurance, utility bills, medical records, school records, paycheck stubs, and any other type of document that has your name and a date on it. Ideally you should have sixty (60) pieces of evidence to cover the 60 months of continuous presence required under this immigration plan. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to call our office at (870) 648-1055.
Abogados Hispanos Para La Comunidad Hispana
We handle all immigration cases including Family-based Petitions and Immigration Detention cases in Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana. ( Not licensed in Oklahoma and Louisiana to handle other legal matters but can refer you if necessary)
The Orta Law Firm offers affordable and personalized service for clients seeking criminal
defense and immigration removal defense. We also offer family-based immigration petitions,
including the recent Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and the New Deferred Action and Parental Accountability Program (DAPA). Contact us today for more
information and how we can help you. At Orta Law, you get to speak with your attorney,
not a middleman.
CALL TO FIND OUT IF YOU QUALIFY FOR DEFERRED ACTION
Immigration, Deferred Action, Criminal Defense, DWI, Personal Injury
Inmigración, Acción Deferida, La Defensa Penal, Accidentes
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Orta Law Firm ofrece servicios accesibles y personalizados para clientes que buscan servicios de defensa penal y defensa de deportación de inmigración. También ofrecemos servicios de peticiones migratorias a través de la familia, incluyendo el reciente Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (conocido como “Acción Diferida”). Contactenos hoy para mas informacion sobre como podemos ayudar. En nuestro bufete, le prometemos que usted puede hablar con un abogado licenciado y no alguien más.
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