The removal of convictions from your criminal record through the legal process is called expungement. An expungement can be attempted for misdemeanor convictions as well as felonies, depending on your state and its laws.
There are states, like California, for example, that will allow expungement based on their own set of rules when it comes to removing a conviction from your record. There are also states, including New York, where although you can seal your prior convictions, making them no longer public, you won’t be able to get an expungement.
As soon as you are sure that your state will allow the expungement of convictions, the next important thing is how much this expungement process costs. Of course, as each state has its own rules, the cost of expungement will also vary based on several factors, but more on this below.
How Much Does Expungement Cost?
Expungement costs somewhere between $250 and $5,500 or more, depending on several factors, including whether you hire an attorney and their hourly fees, the state in which you reside, and. whether it is a misdemeanor or a felony. Out of these, the factor to influence the final bill the most will be the attorney you hire.
Expungement Cost Breakdown
|Attorney Fees||$400 to $4500|
|Court Related Costs||$100 to $500|
|Other Fees||$0 to $100|
|Additional Costs||Variable based on specific situations|
The first set of fees you should consider are the standard court costs associated with the full expungement process, while some states also have an application fee. These costs will likely be between $100 and $500, although they can be even more, depending on your specific case and its details.
You will also be faced with filing fees, which come separate from court costs. These are specific to the local county or state court you’re going to. This payment is related to the processing of the needed paperwork. A more complicated case will also involve more complicated paperwork and removing a felony will likely be more complicated in terms of paperwork than removing a misdemeanor. The more complicated the paperwork, the more it is likely to cost as more work will be needed.
One of the trickiest parts about figuring out the cost of expungement is figuring out the attorney fees, as these depend on a lot of factors, especially the amount of legal work needed on the case. You are likely to pay an hourly rate when hiring a criminal defense attorney to help you through this incredibly complex process and represent you. Your attorney can give you an initial estimation within your first consultation which they might require that you pay in full, but your final bill will be a breakdown of all the hours they need to work on your expungement case.
You might be able to spend less and stay within a set budget if you talk to a bunch of different attorneys, get an initial quote from all of them, and then go for the one that offers a better price. Most criminal law attorneys offer an initial consultation for free, so they can better understand your situation and talk about any fees you should be prepared for.
You are likely to spend anywhere between $400 and $4,500 on the attorney fees related to an expungement case, although this greatly depends on the lawyer you choose to work with and their hourly rate. Of course, the complexity of your case will also have a role in deciding the cost, as even with the cheapest attorney, you won’t be charged just $400 for complex a expungement case.
As a general rule, the more hours an attorney will spend going through the information and then filling out the needed paperwork, the more you will spend.
Felony or Misdemeanor
The cost of expungement will be influenced by the type of offense you want to expunge and the particular laws of the jurisdiction you fall in, but usually, this process is used for less serious offenses. Seeing that not all felony convictions can be expunged, it is more common for someone to look for misdemeanor expungement than felony expungement. There are also states that won’t allow expungement in the case of felonies related to violent or sexual offenses. Some states allow felony DUI to be expunged, while others don’t.
Of course, you will also be faced with more legal work when having felony convictions expunged, which leads to an increase in attorney fees as well. But this is something the criminal defense attorney you interview for an initial consultation will be able to explain better.
You might notice that the fees related to working with the court, as well as other fees, won’t come on the same bill, but pop up as the process moves on. To make sure you’r case goes as smoothly as possible, you should take care of every fee that pops up as fast as you can.
Additional Costs of the Case
You will also need to make sure your original criminal case has been resolved. If not, you won’t be able to have it expunged. You will also have to make sure that any sentenced you were served, like probation or community service, has been finished. And of course, if you owe any money related to the case, like paying any fines to the state or paying restitution, these will also have to be settled before the expungement process can begin.
In the end, getting an expungement of your record will be a way to clean it, not avoid sentences, fees, or fines related to the case.