What Does Expungement Mean?

Expungement is the erasing or sealing of a legal record of an arrest through a court-ordered process.

The process for getting a conviction or arrest getting to expunge would depend on the county or state where this happened.  However, an expungement does not apply to everyone, and it only occurs after a certain amount of time after you serve your sentence or probation period.


Usually, a bail bondsman can help you be released from prison faster. So how does this work? After you get arrested, you need to post bail, or you pay the bondsman a certain amount of money for you to be released from police custody. However, this does not erase your arrest from your legal record. When you get arrested, the police officer will be recording your personal information (name, age, address, and physical characteristics). The police will also check your background for any previous criminal record. Your alleged crime will be put on the record together with your fingerprints and photographs.

Your personal belongings will be confiscated when you get arrested and will only be available upon your release from jail. If you committed a minor offense, you would be released after signing a citation and being scheduled for a court appearance.

There are some cases where you can be released on your own recognizance. This means that you promise in writing to appear in court on the scheduled date. You are only eligible to be released from jail of your own recognizance based on the seriousness of your alleged crime, your criminal record, whether you are a risk to the community and your ties to it.

Your court appearance is important, and it is one of the things that the policeman will emphasize that you have to attend. Failure to make your court appearance will get you arrested, and you will have an added criminal record.

The bail processing will differ from court to court. The court will have a bail hearing wherein your physical and mental condition will be considered if you have a history of alcohol and drug abuse and if you have a criminal record. Your family ties and the length of stay in the community will also be taken into account.

The court will be setting the amount for your bail and, once released, the court will impose restrictions like enforcing a curfew or limiting your travel, or the testing or treatment for your health depending on the findings from the bail hearing.

You can pay the court the bail amount in cash, money order, or cashier’s check. If you don’t have enough money, you can hire a bail bondsman. Usually, the bondsman will charge 10 to 20 percent of non-refundable fee to the bail amount.


Let’s go back to expungement. Once you get booked by the police, you will have a criminal record due to your alleged crime. If the court approves the expungement, your history of arrest will be erased from the legal records.

Usually, when you get arrested, and you look for a job, an apartment, or anything that involves the employer or owner who checks your background, you don’t get approved due to your record. However, when you get expunged by the court, it would be easier for you to get approved since you are not obligated to disclose this to anyone.

If someone does a background check on you through public records, the expungement conviction or arrest will not appear.

Technically, expungements are not literally erased. They are only sealed or “erased” from the eyes of the public. The people who can view your records are limited to law enforcement officers, criminal courts, and other government entities. However, the sealed expunged conviction can still be considered as proof of prior conviction should you be arrested again for alleged crimes committed after your expungement.

Like the process of posting bail, not everyone is eligible for an expungement. You may be considered for an expungement depending on the jurisdiction. Some states don’t grant expungements of criminal convictions like in New York. The nature of the crime is also considered as well as your criminal history and the duration of between your arrest and the request for expungement.