At first glance, the prospect of saving some money by preparing and arguing your own expungement can seem tempting. Many people in need of expungement services are either unemployed, underemployed, or looking for jobs, and looking to save money where they can. In may ways, the state of Kentucky tries to make it easy to file your own expungement: there are court created forms, and AOC has even put out a guide on how to prepare your own expungement. But whether you are seeking a felony expungement under KRS 431.073, a misdemeanor expungement under KRS 431.078, or the expungement of a dismissed case under KRS 431.078, an attorney can make a substantial difference in the likelihood of you expungement being granted, and can ensure that your record is cleared as much as possible.
First, an attorney with experience doing expungements will be able to tell you quickly whether you qualify. At Clark Law, we’ve done over 1600 evaluations through our innovative web app, all of which were absolutely free to those clients. If you are interested in felony, misdemeanor, or dismissed case expungement, just use our free, simple app to find out if you qualify. To a non-attorney, or even an attorney that doesn’t handle expungements regularly, the expungement statutes can look daunting:
Does this look easy to read to you? If so, you are probably an experienced expungement attorney. Further, even if you can determine whether your offense is one of the offenses listed in the statute, if you have multiple offenses, how will you know whether you were convicted of a series of felonies arising from a single incident? A good lawyer can make the difference in a felony staying on your record forever and the complete restoration of your civil rights.
A recent case we handled is a good example (the details of this case have been changed to protect the clients anonymity and are used with her permission). Our client (let’s call her Jane Greenthumb) started the KRS 431.079 certification process with the Kentucky State Police on her own. Jane had been convicted of cultivating marijuana in 1992. At the time of the conviction, the statute number for cultivating marijuana in Kentucky was KRS 218A.150. Because of this, the Kentucky State Police told her she did not qualify for expungement.
Anyone following the bill would know that the AOC Guide tells us that Cultivation of Marijuana Five Plants or Greater is one of the offenses that is eligible for expungement. Despite this, the Kentucky State Police found that Ms. Greenthumb was not eligible. Why? Because in 1992, the statute number for the offense was changed from KRS 218A.150 to 218A.1423. KSP narrowly interpreted the bill, and because of it they found that Jane was not eligible.
That’s when Jane contacted us. We were able to quickly locate old versions of the statute and show that they were the same exact offense, just different numbers. We filed a nine page motion, and within two weeks, the prosecution and the judge had agreed that we were right and KSP was wrong. The judge disregarded KSP’s recommendation and vacated and expunged Jane’s conviction.
We’ve handled many cases where KSP didn’t initially certify someone as eligible (frequently getting them to reverse themselves and create a new report finding the person eligible), and we still haven’t lost one. Of course just because we won one case, or even many cases, doesn’t mean we will win them all. But having an attorney has made a difference in all of these cases.
What about cases where KSP certifies someone as eligible? An attorney is just as important. Felony expungement, dismissed case expungement and misdemeanor expungement are almost entirely permissive statutes. What does that mean? Well, unless you only have one misdemeanor or traffic offense ever, the expungement is entirely in the judge’s discretion. While this is an unsettled point, many believe that a Kentucky judge can deny an expungement for any reason that is not unconstitutional discrimination. A good attorney can draft a motion that presents your story to the prosecutor and judge in a compelling way. Our Unconvicted program includes a custom motion with every full-service package. Our Step Two App (available to full-service clients) will give us the information we need to tell your story to your judge and prosecutor. While a pro-se defendant would get the opportunity to be heard and could draft a similar motion, my experience as a death-penalty defense attorney gives me the insight to know what arguments work and which ones don’t.
Further, an experienced expungement attorney will take your motion and ensure that is filed in the correct place. Whether it is a felony expungement in Winchester, or a misdemeanor expungement in Lexington, we know the clerks and we know the requirements. Don’t delay having your record cleared because you don’t have all of the required paperwork or you miss a deadline. We will ensure that your case is filed where it needs to be and when it needs to be. A pro se defendant will have to find out where and when (some clerk’s offices close at 4, some stop taking new filings at 3:30pm) to file their petition. A competent, experienced attorney takes this concern out of the equation.
Even after the expungement is filed, an attorney can make a huge difference. Many jurisdictions and many judges order hearings in every expungement case. Many studies show that public speaking is the number one fear of Americans. Don’t take a chance that you fumble through your expungement hearing. Hire a professional, competent public speaker to put your best foot forward in court. Everyone at Clark Law and Unconvicted is court-tested and ready to fight for your case. I’ve stood in front of juries and argued that they should acquit my client for murder and I’ve won. The attorneys I work with all have court experience and won’t lockup when your case is on the line.
Another thing that an attorney can do for your expungement is make sure that private background check companies are aware that your record has been vacated or expunged. There are over 100 private background check companies that report on your record to potential employers. If they don’t know to remove your conviction from their database, it can take years for it to fully disappear. We know how to speed this process and can help you achieve your goals sooner because of it.
Finally, an attorney just makes the process smoother and more professional. When asking a prosecutor to do something that they might not want to do (remember–they fought hard to convict you in the first place), it helps to have all your I’s dotted, your T’s crossed, and your messaging on point. I recently ran into Ray Larson, the elected prosecutor for Lexington. As many of you know, Ray is a fierce advocate against crime. I’ve known Ray for years, and we’ve rarely seen eye-to-eye on many issues. But he stopped me on the street and told me (I’m paraphrasing here) “Brad, I’ve got a quote for your site. Let people know that if they are going to apply to expunge their record they should hire an attorney. Because the biggest problem we have is people trying to do it themselves and getting it wrong.”
Don’t take a chance on your second chance. Hire an experienced expungement attorney to handle your case. We represent people looking to clear their records throughout Kentucky–whether it is a felony expungement in Louisville, a dismissed case in Bowling Green, or a misdemeanor expungement in Lexington, we’ve handled it and we can handle it for you. Take our free expungement attorney evaluation to see if we can help you clear your Kentucky criminal record, or simply call us at (888) 400-5730 to get the process started.