Criminal Records and Expungement Seminar
An estimated 70 million Americans have a criminal record, prompted in part by a mass incarceration crisis. At the same time, individuals with criminal records have substantial barriers to employment, housing, and education. To illustrate, employers routinely ask job applicants whether they have ever been arrested for or convicted of a criminal offense. A “yes” answer negatively impacts the applicant’s job prospects.
Expungement refers to the legal process of sealing or removing arrest and conviction records. Though the details vary from state to state, most states' laws provide that once an arrest or conviction has been expunged, it need not be disclosed, including to potential employers—thus providing the applicant with a fresh slate. States vary considerably, however, in who is eligible for expungement, what the expungement process involves, and the exact consequences of expungement.
Through research, writing, discussion, and experience, this seminar introduces students to the topic of expungement of criminal records, including different state policies, their rationale, and effectiveness. Students will learn about and engage in, to the extent possible, applications and motions for expungement of criminal records through community agencies. A minimum number of hours engaging in these professional activities is required; and students will be trained in preparing the necessary legal documents.