Mississippi law allows certain first-time criminal convictions to be expunged from the offender’s record.  Not all, just some.  For instance, the law is limited almost entirely to misdemeanors.  Some felonies can be expunged, but not many.  Also, the law allows only first-time offenders to have their conviction removed.  People with more than one conviction are ineligible, and this includes convictions from other states.   Additionally, the petitioner must have completed all requirements of the sentence, including completing probation, paying fines and restitution, and going to court-ordered classes.

The Mississippi expungement law states that: “Any person who has been convicted of a misdemeanor, excluding a conviction for a traffic violation, and who is a first offender, may petition the justice, county, circuit or municipal court in which the conviction was had for an order to expunge any such conviction from all public records.”

All first-time misdemeanors except traffic convictions are eligible to be expunged in Mississippi.  This is a big exception because “traffic convictions” includes driving under the influence (DUI).  Under this law, then, a a DUI in Mississippi cannot be removed from your record.  However, any other misdemeanor can be removed, including shoplifting, petty theft, possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia, and writing bad checks. 

After the petition is filed, a hearing may be held to determine if it should be granted.  The petitioner must give the district attorney at least 10 days’ notice before a hearing.  In determining whether to grant the petition, the court must find that the petitioner is rehabilitated from the offense for which he or she was convicted.

In having an expungement petition granted, the petitioner is restored to the full legal status he or she held before being charged.  He or she may deny, under oath, ever being arrested or convicted.  However, the law does allow employers to ask if a prospective employee has ever had an order of expunction entered on their behalf.

Mississippi law does allow six felonies to be expunged: a bad check offense, possession of controlled substance or paraphernalia, false pretense, larceny, malicious mischief, and shoplifting.  The offender must wait to petition the court five years after the completion of his or her sentence, then follow the same procedure as with misdemeanors.  The same rules regarding full restoration of legal status apply to Mississippi felony expungements. 

A permanent criminal conviction on your record can mess up your life.  It can be difficult to find a job or a place to live, or to get into school.   If you’ve been charged with a crime in Mississippi, it is crucial that you do everything possible to keep it off your record.  Patrick Stegall is a Southaven criminal defense lawyer who can work to help first-offenders avoid criminal convictions.  Please call him at (901) 205-9894  or email him at pstegall@stegall-law.com.

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