North Dakota Expungement and Pardon - Sand Law North Dakota
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North Dakota Expungement and Pardon Attorneys

How do I get an expungement or pardon in North Dakota?

Even after offenders have paid their debt to society, their past history still closely follows them into the future. Having a criminal record makes it tough to leave this past behind. It’s a stigma that limits various opportunities and fosters distrust. Expungements and pardons help people with criminal records establish new lives, repair their reputations, and regain an even footing in the community.

Everyone makes mistakes. That doesn’t mean a fresh start is undeserved. If your criminal record is holding you back, a North Dakota expungement lawyer can assist you in getting that record sealed. Call 701-609-1510 to speak to an experienced attorney at Sand Law today.

What is an Expungement?

An expungement is the deletion of a past criminal record. Once expunged, a record can be hidden from background checks. When a record is sealed by expungement, the contents of that record can only be made available with specific court approval.

A person whose record was expunged does not have to report their previous criminal record when applying for jobs or when looking for a place to rent. Additionally, an expungement can restore any lost rights, like being able to vote in elections.

Not all offenses are eligible for expungement, however. Some may be pardoned.

What is a Pardon?

A pardon is a government decision that allows the legal consequences of a criminal conviction eased. Depending on the circumstances, a pardon can be full, partial, or conditional. A pardon may be granted before or after someone is convicted of a crime.

While a pardon doesn’t destroy or seal a criminal record, like an expungement does, it can remove certain penalties and restore rights to the convicted, like the right to vote or the right to own a firearm.

In North Dakota, a pardon is decided by the The Pardon Advisory Board along with the governor. They have the authority to grant a commutation, conditional pardon, pardon, remission of fines, and reprieve.

North Dakota’s New Law regarding Expungements

Prior to August 1, 2019, citizens of North Dakota could only have their criminal records sealed under extremely limited conditions. One of the few ways to get a record sealed prior to 2019 was to receive a deferred imposition of sentence, meaning the sentence for an offense gets postponed and remains off record until that sentence starts. In order for a sentence to be deferred, the defendant had to plead guilty to the charge.

Additionally, the list of crimes for which the records could be sealed was limited, including the possession of less than one ounce of marijuana and crimes committed as a direct result of being a victim.

The new laws passed in August 2019 (HB 1256 and HB 1334) created opportunities for former offenders to have their criminal history sealed with fewer exceptions than in the past.

Do I Qualify for an Expungement or Pardon in North Dakota?

Not everyone is qualified to have their criminal records expunged. Offenses that require an offender to join a registry under section 12.1-32-15 are not eligible for expungement. This includes crimes against children and sexual offenses.

To be pardoned, an applicant has to show that the conviction has caused him or her to “have encountered a significant problem with the consequences of the conviction or sentence.” For instance, a conviction that prevents a person from pursuing professional qualifications or gainful employment may be considered a significant reason for a pardon.

In order to fully understand if your conviction can be expunged or pardoned, you will need to speak to a North Dakota criminal defense attorney to go over your options.

What are the Requirements to get an Expungement?

One eligibility requirement for getting a record sealed is a guilty plea or a guilty verdict. Misdemeanors and felonies have their own unique requirements. If you are interested in getting records of a misdemeanor sealed, you must go three years without a new criminal charge.

The three year waiting period begins after probation, parole, or incarceration ends. After the three year period, you can request expungement. For felonies, that period is five years. Crimes involving violence or intimidation require a 10 year charge-free waiting period.

In order to get your criminal record expunged, you must explain why your record should be sealed, as discussed above. Basically, your past offenses need to be causing you some immediate hinderance.

After the petition has been filed, a hearing will be scheduled to review the expungement request. This hearing will be at least 45 days after the petition is filed. This period is required to give the prosecutor time to collect evidence and consult law enforcement, victims, witnesses, and any other involved parties. The court will consider various factors such as the seriousness of the crime and the risk that a petitioner poses to society.

If a municipal court denies the petition, then an appeal can be made to the district court. The petitioner must wait at least three years from the date of the denial to file another request for sealing the records. If the case is denied in district court, the petitioner cannot appeal the decision any further.

What Should I know about getting a Pardon in North Dakota?

A pardon does not seal a criminal history; a background check can still reveal the criminal record. However, the background check will also reveal the pardon, which can help to show that a former offender has been rehabilitated. This can be extremely helpful in future endeavors.

If you’re seeking a pardon, you must petition The Pardon Advisory Board, but opportunities to do so are limited. Board members meet only twice a year, reviewing roughly 50 applications per year. Additionally, they only review applications submitted 90 days or prior to their meeting. This is why having an attorney on your side can make all the difference in properly submitting your request.

Finally, The Pardon Advisory Board only has the ability to recommend a pardon to the governor. Ultimately, it is the current governor of North Dakota’s decision whether or not to grant the pardon.

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Do I need an attorney to get an Expungement or Pardon?

The process for obtaining an expungement or pardon is both lengthy and detailed. The guidance of a legal expert makes it much easier to meet specific deadlines and requirements related to a petition. If you’re seeking an expungement or pardon, the attorneys of Sand Law will work diligently to ensure that you get the second chance you deserve. Contact us using our online form or by calling us at 701-609-1510.

Sand Law PLLC is located in the heart of North Dakota with offices in Watford City, Williston, Bismarck, and Minot. We take every possible measure to be available 7 days a week, every day of the year. So please contact us today to discuss your case. We value your privacy and will keep any information strictly confidential.