Getting ahead in life is difficult enough for today’s youth without having the burden of past mistakes to drag behind them. Getting a job, a loan, or even being able to vote is challenging for people who have a criminal record.
Sadly, young people in Mississippi often don’t get a second chance or even a helping hand. According to 2021 data from the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC), 1 in 14 people in state prisons were incarcerated before the age of 18, with the average sentence being 8.6 years. Since 2007, almost 85% of admissions were Black youths.
Getting a leg up in life can be challenging but not impossible to attain. Depending on your situation, it may be possible to obtain an expungement of your record, which would clear the way for you to get a fair chance at leaving old mistakes behind.
What expungement does
Expungement is a way to remove the conviction of certain crimes from public view so that this information cannot later be used to bar the individual from applying for a job, a mortgage, or other activities that are part of daily life.
Although these convictions are inaccessible to the public, they remain in the court records and will still be visible to law enforcement or certain employers or institutions, such as the military or school systems.
Not all convictions are eligible for expungement as mandated by state law, and some individuals may not qualify. Expungements typically apply to misdemeanor convictions, but not most felonies.
Mississippi’s expungement laws
Under Mississippi law, eligibility for expungement is available to individuals who have certain convictions on their record. An individual who has any misdemeanor conviction outside of a traffic violation, or who is a first offender, is eligible for expungement. Individuals with felony convictions may begin the process of expungement five years after completing the terms of the sentence if the felony was:
- A bad check conviction
- Possession of a controlled substance or paraphernalia
- False pretense offense
Individuals are not eligible if they have convictions for violent felonies such as murder, manslaughter, burglary, robbery of a dwelling, or rape. Under current law, individuals may seek expungement of only one felony conviction.