How To Seek Legal Forgiveness in Utah

One of the biggest misconceptions about people who have been convicted of a crime is that change is completely impossible. In reality, people do get out of prison and decide that they will not go back to that life again. They seek counseling. They quit harmful substances. They volunteer. They tell their story as a cautionary tale, so young people don’t end up with the same fate. They remedy their relationships with family and friends.

Even if you were to do all of this and live a happy, healthy life, you can still look bad on paper because of your history. This can make it difficult to do things like rent a home, get a job, seek an education, and take out a loan.

Fortunately, the state of Utah has ways that you can be forgiven in the eyes of the law. They are called expungements and pardons.

What is An Expungement?

An expungement is when the state of Utah is able to seal any records related to a crime that you were accused of. This includes records of your arrest, investigation, detention, and conviction. This means if someone does a background check on you, the records won’t show up.

As a matter of fact, the only way someone could obtain expunged records is through a court order, and that would only happen in extreme circumstances.

How to Get An Expungement

In 2019, Utah passed a law that made it so expungements will happen automatically for certain misdemeanor crimes after a specified amount of time. Some of these crimes include:

  • Class A misdemeanor drug possession - If you had one or two cases, your records will be completely expunged seven years after the date that your plea was accepted or that the court gave its formal decision of guilt.
  • Class B misdemeanors - If you had one-to-three cases, the records will be expunged after six years.
  • Class C misdemeanors, minor regulatory offenses, and infractions - These will be expunged after five years.
  • Cases that were acquitted - You can get this expunged 60 days after you were acquitted.
  • Cases that were dismissed with prejudice - This takes 180 days for the expungement to go through.

In order to get an expungement for any of these crimes, you have to have paid all of the fees, fines, and restitution associated with them.

If the amount of time has passed for you, and you haven’t had your records expunged yet, that’s because this system is fairly new. The law has only been in effect since 2022, and the state of Utah doesn’t have a timeline of when all of the current expungements will be done. There have also been some funding issues with this program and is not the most reliable way to get the expungement done.  If you want them expunged sooner we can help you with that. 

Crimes That Can’t Get an Automatic Expungement

If you have committed the following crimes, you won’t be able to get an automatic expungement: 

  • Any kind of felony
  • Assault
  • DUI
  • Class A misdemeanor that wasn’t drug possession
  • Domestic violence offense
  • Certain offenses that are weapon-related
  • Sexual offenses

Instead, what you can do is seek a pardon.

What Is a Pardon?

A pardon is a formal forgiveness from the state. It isn’t quite as strong as an expungement because it does not hide your records completely. However, it can restore certain rights — like owning a gun — and it can lead to getting your records expunged.

How to Get a Pardon

Pardons are decided by the Utah Board of Pardons & Parole. You have to apply for a pardon through the board, and if they decide to hear you out, they’ll schedule a hearing. After the hearing, they’ll either accept or deny your request for a pardon.

In order for your case to even be considered, you have to have waited five years from when you finished serving time, including probation. During those five years, you have to have shown “exemplary citizenship and demonstrable evidence of rehabilitation.” You also have to have paid any amount of money you were ordered to pay as part of your conviction.

The application requires you to submit all the documents related to your case including court dockets, police reports, and investigations that were done before sentencing. You’ll also have to include a current copy of the criminal background report on you from the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification.

Help With Expungements & Pardons

We realize that this process might sound overwhelming. There are a lot of things that can go wrong, especially at the hearing. You’re not an expert at seeking legal forgiveness. What if you say the wrong thing?

That is where an experienced attorney can be a great asset. They can help you file the correct paperwork in a way that would be convincing for the state board to hear your case. When you are supposed to attend your hearing, your lawyer can coach you on what you should say, so you have more of a chance of getting a pardon. From there, they can help get your records expunged.

At Brown, Bradshaw & Moffat, we have an attorney who specializes in expungements and pardons. Experienced attorney Michael Holje been taking on these types of cases since 2003. He’s helped a lot of people get their life back in order. He would love to help you as well.

Call (801) 532-5297 for a free consultation.

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