Relief from a Criminal Conviction (2021 Edition)

EXPUNGED CONVICTIONS: Does an expunged conviction count as a prior conviction under statutes barring relief based on a prior conviction?

No. The purpose of an expunction, stated in various ways in the expunction statutes, is to restore a person to the status he or she occupied before conviction of the offense. An expunged conviction therefore does not constitute a conviction for purposes of determining whether a person has a prior disqualifying conviction. However, some expunction statutes provide that a prior expunction of a particular kind disqualifies a person from obtaining another expunction. For that reason, a prior expunction, if made a disqualifier by the particular statute, would preclude a person from obtaining another expunction.

Other relief statutes operate similarly. For example, a person may obtain a certificate of relief for three prior convictions if the person otherwise meets the criteria for relief. An expunged conviction, because it has been expunged, does not constitute a disqualifying conviction. In addition, a prior expunction does not disqualify a person from obtaining a certificate of relief because, in contrast to many of the expunction statutes, the certificate of relief statute does not list expunctions as disqualifiers.