Any conviction may include collateral consequences that go into effect after someone has paid the fines and completed the incarceration and other penalties. According to the American Bar Association, about 45,000 collateral consequences exist at the federal, state and municipal levels across the country. With this kind of disparity, it can be difficult even for judges and prosecutors to know what the effects of a conviction may be.
By seeking an expungement, a person with a criminal conviction may be able to minimize or eliminate the long-term effects of the incident.
Expungements in Mississippi
Like collateral consequences, expungements are different depending on the location. According to the Restoration of Rights Project, Mississippi law states that any misdemeanor except traffic violations is eligible for expunction. Most nonviolent felony convictions are also eligible, but a person cannot obtain more than one expungement. Convictions for violent crimes, arson, some drug offenses and certain other felonies are not eligible.
A conviction is not eligible for expunction until five years after the person completes the sentence and pays all fines and restitution.
The effects of an expungement
In Mississippi, an expungement allows people to state honestly that they do not have a criminal record. So, with regard to educational, employment and housing opportunities, where a person must indicate an arrest, indictment or conviction, it is not perjury or lying not to acknowledge it.
The exception is in situations when the person must indicate whether he or she has a first offense. Also, an employer may ask about expunctions in an interview, and the applicant must answer that question honestly.