For individuals facing criminal charges, the top priority is often to prevent a conviction from creating a criminal record. Convictions can make it difficult to get a job, rent an apartment, or even engage in a healthy, active social life. Understanding the potential outcomes is a great way to decide how to proceed when criminal charges occur. Working with skilled criminal defense lawyers can help you navigate complex legalities with ease.
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What is a dismissal of criminal charges?
Dismissal of criminal charges means that the charges were dropped before the matter went to trial or a plea deal was made. In some cases, a dismissal means that the prosecutor decided to refrain from pursuing the charges.
More often, charges are only dismissed when a defense attorney asks the court to do so and presents compelling reasons as to why dismissing the charges is the right course of action. Some of the [possible grounds for dismissal include:
- Unlawful search and seizure
- Lack of evidence
- Statute of limitations has passed
- Improper jurisdiction
- No probable cause to arrest
- Defects within the criminal complaint
It’s possible for only some of the charges to be dismissed, and for the prosecutor to move forward with other charges.
What is an expungement of criminal charges?
An expungement of criminal charges happens after a conviction takes place. It is the process of having a conviction removed from your criminal record. If you are able to obtain an expungement, a criminal records check will no longer show that specific conviction.
Iowa law allows each individual the chance to have one misdemeanor conviction expunged from their criminal record. Not all misdemeanors are eligible for expungement, and there are stipulations that must be met.
People who want to take advantage of this option must wait at least eight years after the conviction. They can’t have any pending criminal charges, and they cannot have been granted two deferred judgements. Individuals can still pursue other types of expungements in addition to this once-in-a-lifetime expungement option.
Can a conviction for public intoxication be expunged?
Under Iowa law, an individual convicted of public intoxication can apply to have the conviction expunged. It’s necessary to wait for a period of two years after the conviction, and no other criminal convictions can take place during that waiting period, other than local traffic offenses or simple misdemeanor traffic offenses. This same rule applies to conviction for possession of alcohol under the legal age and juvenile prostitution convictions.
Does an expungement mean my criminal record is permanently destroyed?
The reason Iowa law has so many limitations on which convictions can be expunged is to allow the public to gain information they can use to protect themselves from harm. Expunging records removes those records from the public view.
That said, just because you have a conviction expunged does not mean that all record of the matter disappears completely. While the public won’t be able to see the conviction, law enforcement, the courts, and prosecutors can still see them. This can be used against you in the event you face future criminal charges.
What steps should I take to avoid a criminal record?
If you are facing criminal charges, working with a team of skilled criminal defense lawyers is a great place to begin. Your attorney can work on your behalf to have the charges dismissed, which is the best possible outcome.
Having charges dismissed requires a skilled and experienced touch. There are many different ways to achieve this goal, but success depends on understanding the law as well as local rules. Criminal defense lawyers can also speak directly with the prosecution team to outline the details of the case and why it should not be pursued.
If you have already been convicted, a criminal defense attorney can work to have your record expunged. Here again, a comprehensive understanding of the law and local rules is critical to a fair and favorable outcome. Your attorney can explain the pros and cons of various expungement options, and guide you toward a solution that is a good fit for your needs.
Far too many people accept a conviction as something that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. While there are certainly cases where an expungement is simply not possible, there are many others in which expungement is not only a possibility, but a likely outcome. Taking the time to meet with a skilled defense attorney is the best way to know where you stand.