If you have a conviction on your criminal record, then you probably know first-hand just how much having a criminal past can affect your life. Depending on the severity of the conviction, you might have a hard time finding work. If it's been several years since your conviction and if your charges were misdemeanors (rather than felonies), one option you may want to look into is that of expungement.

Understand What Expungement Is 

Specifically, expungement refers to a legal process that essentially "buries" a criminal conviction. While it is not a reversal of your criminal charges or a finding of innocence on your part, having a conviction expunged means that the charges and convictions against you are sealed from public view. As a result, when you go to apply for jobs or have a criminal background screening run on you in the future, these convictions should not show up. As a result, you are under no legal obligation to disclose the crimes on job applications or other questionnaires. 

Research Your State's Specific Laws

In most states, certain misdemeanor charges can be considered for expungement only after certain conditions are met. For example, many states require that the conviction occurred at least five years ago, and that you have not had any more criminal convictions since. Some states may have more strict laws than others, so it's important to research the laws in your state (or the specific state in which the crime occurred). The process for filing for expungement can also vary from state to state; some may simply require you to submit some basic paperwork, whereas other states may require you to show up to a court hearing.

Consult With a Criminal Law Attorney

If you think you may have convictions that are eligible for expungement, the smartest decision you can make is to schedule a consultation with a criminal law attorney in your respective state. This way, he or she can determine whether going through the expungement application process is worth your time and what you'll need to do. In some cases, a criminal law attorney may even be able to handle any in-person court appearances on your behalf (this can come in handy if you now live in a different state than where the conviction(s) occurred).

Having your criminal charges expunged can be a great way to broaden your horizons for job opportunities and improve your life as a whole.