Expungement of Criminal Records – General – Louisiana
1. What is an expungement?
The process of legally destroying, obliterating or striking out records or information in files, computers and other depositories relating to criminal charges.
2. Do the records just “disappear”?
No. Juvenile criminal records ordered expunged are to be destroyed. When destruction isn’t possible, the records are to be maintained but are never to be disclosed. The court may maintain a confidential record, such as a minute entry, of the fact of an adjudication. This information may be released only upon written motion of a court. Louisiana Childrens’ Code § 920-921.
Adult arrest records ordered expunged may be destroyed if the person was not found guilty. In other adult felony expungement orders, Expungement” means removal of a record from public access but does not mean destruction of the record. An expunged record is confidential, but remains available for use by any law enforcement agency, criminal justice agency, the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners, the Louisiana State Board of Nursing, the Louisiana State Board of Dentistry, the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists, the Emergency Medical Services Certification Commission, Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board, Office of Disciplinary Counsel, or the Louisiana Supreme Court Committee on Bar Admissions. For investigative purposes only, the Department of Public Safety and Corrections may maintain a confidential, nonpublic record of the arrest and disposition. Louisiana Criminal Code 44:9.
What records may be expunged? In juvenile criminal cases, court records, including all records relating to the conduct or conditions referred to in the motion for expungement, including but not limited to pleadings, exhibits, reports, minute entries, correspondence, and all other documents. Also, agency records, including all reports and records whether on microfilm, computer memory device, or tape, or any other photographic, fingerprint, or any other information of any kind and all kinds or descriptions relating to the conduct or conditions referred to in the motion for expungement. Louisiana Childrens’ Code § 920-921.
In adult misdemeanor cases, all agencies and law enforcement records, including record of the arrest, whether on microfilm, computer card or tape, or on any other photographic, electronic, or mechanical method of storing data, photograph, fingerprint, or any other information of any and all kinds or descriptions. In felony cases records of any proceedings, order, judgment, or other action under Code of Criminal Procedure Article 893 may be ordered expunged. Louisiana Criminal Code 44:9.
3. Who is eligible for expungement?
A. juvenile over 17 may have criminal charges expunged when those charges did not result in adjudication. Otherwise juvenile criminal records meeting the following conditions may be expunged:
B. Records concerning conduct or conditions that resulted in a misdemeanor adjudication may be expunged only if two or more years have elapsed since the person satisfied the most recent judgment against him.
C. Records concerning conduct or conditions that resulted in a felony adjudication may be expunged only if:
(1) The adjudication was not for murder, manslaughter, any sexual crime, kidnapping, or armed robbery.
(2) Five or more years have elapsed since the person satisfied the most recent judgment against him.
(3) The person has no criminal court felony convictions and no criminal court convictions for misdemeanors involving a weapon.
(4) The person has no outstanding indictment or bill of information charging him. Louisiana Childrens’ Code § 920-921.
For adults arrested on misdemeanor charges, records may be expunged when
(1) The time limitation for initiating prosecution on the offense has expired, and no prosecution has been instituted; or
(2) If prosecution has been instituted, and such proceedings have been finally disposed of by dismissal, sustaining of a motion to quash, or acquittal. First or second arrests for driving under the influence of drugs or narcotics may not be expunged.
In the case of an adult arrested for the violation of a felony offense or who has been arrested for battery on a police officer or school teacher or aggravated assault, they may request expungement if the prosecutor declines to prosecute, or the prosecution has been instituted, and such proceedings have been finally disposed of by acquittal, dismissal, or sustaining a motion to quash; and the record of arrest and prosecution for the offense is without value as a prior act for any subsequent prosecution.
An adult whose felony conviction was dismissed after successfully completing probation may seek to get records expunged. No records involving felony charges of sexual abuse of minors may be expunged. Louisiana Criminal Code 44:9.
4. How do I get records expunged?
In juvenile cases, the motion for expungement must be in writing and must state facts that constitute grounds for expungement under Article 918. The motion for expungement must be filed with the court possessing the records the person seeks to expunge, or with the court having jurisdiction over the arresting agency. The motion must be served personally or by domiciliary service or by certified mail on the district attorney, the clerk of the court whose records are sought to be expunged, and the head of any agency whose reports and records are sought to be expunged, including but not limited to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Louisiana Bureau of Criminal Identification and Information, the Department of Public Safety and Corrections, and local law enforcement agencies.
Unless waived by consent of the parties, a contradictory hearing must be conducted with the district attorney and any agency whose records are sought to be expunged. If the court finds that the grounds have been established, and that the person is entitled to expungement, the court may order expungement.
In adult cases, expungement for most misdemeanors is accomplished by filing a motion with the court in which the violation was prosecuted or to the district court located in the parish of the arrest if no prosecution was instituted. Practices vary from court to court. Some courts allow the motions to be filed without payment of court costs. Others require the payment of a filing fee.
Expungements of felonies (and battery on a police officer or school teacher or aggravated assault) are done by motion to the district court for the parish in which one was arrested. The motion must ask for a “contradictory hearing” with the district attorney and the arresting law enforcement agency. This means that a motion and order for a hearing must be served on these officials. After the court hearing with the district attorney and law enforcement agency, the judge must order an expungement if the arrestee has proven his entitlement to an expungement.