A criminal record can haunt you for decades. Your criminal record will show up on background checks for employment, government approvals, bank loans and credit cards, and professional licenses. A conviction for driving while intoxicated (DWI) or operating while intoxicated (OWI) carries a special stigma that can make it difficult to get a job or get into school and lead to awkward conversations in personal and professional relationships. Luckily, however, depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be able to get your DWI erased from your record.
An experienced lawyer at Whiddon Criminal Defense can help you obtain an expungement of your criminal record. We’ll conduct a review of your record to determine if you are eligible, and if so, we’ll help you get the relief you deserve.
What is Expungement?
Expungement is the legal process for having part or all of your criminal record erased. When a crime is expunged from a person’s criminal record, that means that the record of arrest and/or conviction, including photos, witness statements, court filings, and other documentation, is removed from public access.
If your conviction was expunged, you can legally and truthfully say on a job application, for example, that you were “never” convicted of a crime. Your conviction may still show up in certain, limited government searches, but for nearly all other aspects of your life, it will be as if the criminal record never existed.
Can You Expunge Records of a DWI?
Not all criminal records can be expunged. And where expungement is possible, there are specific rules and procedures, as well as limitations. Regarding DWI (or OWI, operating while intoxicated in Louisiana), there is a process for having DWI arrests and even convictions expunged.
Article 894 of the Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure allows for a special procedure whereby a conviction (either through a guilty plea or trial verdict) can be set aside and dismissed after a period of probation. An “894 Plea” refers to an agreement between the prosecutor and the court for the defendant to plead guilty to a misdemeanor, knowing that the court will sentence the defendant pursuant to Article 894. After the defendant completes probation successfully, with no new arrests, the court can set aside the conviction and dismiss the case.
Once a conviction has been set aside and dismissed under Article 894, the defendant can file a motion to have the record expunged. The court can grant the motion and have all records of the arrest and conviction expunged.
A normal conviction for a misdemeanor may also be eligible for expungement. In order to qualify for expungement, the following must be true:
- The defendant successfully completed any sentence, probation, and parole
- More than five years have passed since the defendant completed their sentence/probation/parole
- The defendant has not been convicted of any felony offense during those five years
- The defendant has no felony charges currently pending
Defendants can only seek expungement relating to a DWI conviction once every ten years. Talk to a knowledgeable Louisiana criminal defense attorney to find out if your DWI conviction may be eligible for expungement and which procedures you’ll need to follow to obtain an expungement.
Reach Out for Help Expunging a Monroe DWI Arrest or Conviction
If you have a prior DWI/DUI/OWI conviction in northern Louisiana, you may be eligible for criminal record expungement. We’re ready to take a look at your case and advise you on whether you are eligible and if your records can be expunged, how to do so. The DWI defense and expungement legal team at the Monroe offices of Whiddon Criminal Defense is ready to help you fight for your rights, your freedom, and your future. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.