Q&A: Erasing a Criminal Record in Connecticut
How can I clear my criminal record of an offense in connecticut?
You can apply to have your criminal record expunged through the Connecticut Board of Pardons and Paroles. In Connecticut, an expungement, or the complete erasure of the criminal record of an offense, is called an Absolute Pardon. If granted an Absolute Pardon, your criminal record will be erased, making it inaccessible to the public, potential employers, or background checks. In fact, after you have been granted an Absolute Pardon, you are allowed to legally say that you do not have a criminal record. You may also be considered for a Certificate of Employability, which makes it illegal for a prospective employer to deny employment based on an applicant's criminal record. A Certificate of Employability does not expunge an offense from your criminal record.
Why should I apply for a criminal records expungement in Connecticut?
A criminal record can follow you around and have negative effects on various aspects of your life. When you have your criminal record expunged, you can legally say that you do not have a criminal record.
- Employment: Many employers run criminal background checks. For some types of jobs, a criminal record may make you ineligible for the position. While in others, a criminal record may not automatically disqualify you, but the employer may be hesitant to hire someone with a criminal record. Expunging your criminal record will improve your chances of securing employment.
- Housing: Landlords often run criminal background checks on prospective tenants. The existence of a criminal record may result in a landlord refusing your application for an apartment, limiting your ability to live in the area/building you prefer.
- Public Information: In the age of Google, you want to remove any negative information that exists about you online. Your criminal record is public information, which means that anyone (friends, colleagues, acquaintances) can find it through a simple search of your name. Expunging your record removes this information from public view.
Who is eligible for a pardon in Connecticut?
For an Absolute Pardon, eligibility is determined by the amount of time that has passed since the date of conviction. You are eligible for a pardon three years from the date of a misdemeanor conviction or five years for a felony conviction. You are not eligible for a pardon is you have a pending case in state or federal court or if you are currently incarcerated.
How do I apply for a pardon?
You can apply for an Absolute Pardon or Certificate of Employability through the Connecticut Board of Pardons and Paroles. For the Absolute Pardon, or expungement, you must complete a lengthy application, which includes a criminal background check, police reports, work/personal information, and three references. There is no fee to apply for a pardon, but you do have to pay the state police for processing your criminal records check ($75 as of March 1, 2018).
How long does the process take?
The process can vary depending on the volume of applications the Pardons Board has received. Applications for pardons are processed on a first-come, first-served basis. It is common for the entire process to take up to 12 months. You will receive a letter from the Board after it has conducted an initial review of your application. You may then be required to appear at a hearing, even if you do not live in Connecticut. There are 12 hearings per year.
How does the Board decide whether to grant a pardon?
The Board has the discretion to grant or deny a pardon for any eligible applicant, regardless of the severity of the crime. In reviewing your application, the Board evaluates your entire situation, including:
- Evidence of rehabilitation
- Severity of the offense
- Victim impact and input
- Amount of time passed/prior criminal history
- Character references
- Accomplishments of applicant
- Public interest
- State Attorney's opinion
- Work history
- Community service
What can I do if I am denied a pardon?
If you are denied a pardon, will receive a letter from the Board explaining why you were denied and the date you may reapply. Generally, the waiting period for reapplication is one year. Each application is evaluated on its own to determine whether a pardon should be granted.
➤ For more information about pardons, visit the Connecticut Board of Pardons and Parole website. If you have questions regarding clearing your criminal record in Connecticut, contact us to schedule a free consultation.
Douglas D. Rudolph is a Connecticut criminal defense attorney. To learn more about Doug, click here.