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Federal Felony Expungement: Is it Possible?

Federal Felony Expungement in Illinois

federal felony is a crime that violates federal law and is punishable by imprisonment for at least one year. Crimes in this category are serious, and the consequences of being convicted for any such offense go beyond the actual sentence that the offender is made to serve upon conviction.

As many ex-federal felons soon discover after they complete their sentences, a felony conviction remains on a person’s public criminal record. It appears in background checks conducted by third parties such as potential employers, colleges, or landlords.

Once the felony record is discovered, those searching are often reluctant to associate with the convicted felon. This could make it difficult for them to get jobs, suitable housing, and access to opportunities to better their lives. It is almost as though they are still being punished despite completing their sentence.

This challenge is not restricted to federal ex-felons alone but applies to convicted felons who committed crimes under state laws. However, under the criminal laws of various states, there exists a procedure called expungement. This procedure clears a person’s criminal record so they can move on with their lives after a criminal conviction. Convicted felons under state law who meet the requirements for this procedure can take advantage of their state law on expungement to achieve a fresh start.

If you’re a federal ex-felon, you may be wondering whether you can benefit from expungement. This guide examines the federal law on expungement to help you determine whether the procedure would apply in your case. Read on to learn more.

How Expungement Works

Expungement involves the removal of the records of a person’s involvement with the criminal justice system. In some states, the records are destroyed; in others, the records are sealed so they are inaccessible to the public. Nevertheless, these records will still be accessible to court and law enforcement officials.

In states where expungement is permitted, the process is usually handled by a designated court. Upon the convicted person’s application, the court would assess their case and determine whether they qualify to have their criminal record expunged.

If the court refuses the application, things will remain as they are. But if the application is granted, the judge would issue an order directing the relevant government agencies to destroy or seal the applicant’s records. Once the order is given and executed, the applicant’s records become inaccessible to the public as though they never existed.

By so doing, the limitations the applicant has experienced due to their criminal history would have been eliminated.

Can Federal Felonies Be Expunged?

Generally, federal offenses and convictions for misdemeanors and felonies cannot be expunged.

The only exception to this rule is found under 18 USC 3607(c), in which individuals can expunge a drug conviction for simple possession of drugs (a misdemeanor) under section 404 of the Controlled Substances Act. 

In recent times, several bills seeking to change this position have been introduced in the U.S. Congress, such as the Clean Slate Bill and the Fresh Start Bill. However, these bills have yet to become law. So, as it stands, your federal felony cannot be expunged, and you may need to find creative ways to deal with your conviction and federal criminal records.

Are There Any Alternatives to Federal Expungement?

No other procedure could clear your criminal record the way an expungement would. However, some strategies could help reduce the weight of your conviction and make it easier to get your life back on track since expunging federal felony records is impossible. They include the following:

Obtaining a Presidential Pardon or Executive Clemency

A presidential pardon can get your federal felony “forgiven.” It does not erase your record, but it may help to reduce the consequences of a federal felony conviction and restore lost civil rights such as the right to carry firearms (lost due to your felony conviction).

For example, if a prospective employer imitates a background check, the fact that you were convicted in the past would be visible, but they would also see that you had been pardoned, which could make it easier for them to consider you more favorably.

Presidential pardons are very difficult to get and are not granted often. Still, if you’d like to explore this option, you can consult an attorney for help. They can clarify your eligibility and help you navigate the application process.

Challenging Your Conviction 

Depending on the circumstances, you can challenge your conviction before the court where your case was heard or by filing an appeal before a higher court.

However, time is important when it comes to these judicial procedures. The longer it takes after your conviction, the less likely your chances of success.

Therefore, if you’d like to try this approach, you must act quickly. You can contact a skilled federal Criminal Defense Lawyer to help you assess your case and determine whether this course of action is viable.

Get Help From a Federal Criminal Lawyer in Illinois

The barrier against expunging federal felonies underscores how serious those offenses are. Anyone facing such charges must do all they can to fight their charges and avoid a conviction, including seeking representation from an experienced federal criminal defense attorney.

Our aggressive Illinois Criminal Defense Lawyers at Hirsch Law Group can defend people in that position and work to ensure they do not have to deal with the after-effects of a federal felony conviction. 

If you’ve already been convicted, all hope is not lost. Depending on your circumstances, you can get your conviction reviewed and upturned or canceled by a higher court through the appeals process. However, federal appeals may be difficult to navigate because of the several rules governing the process.

At Hirsch Law Group, we can assess your case and help you determine whether you can appeal your conviction and represent you throughout the process if you qualify. We can also explore other legal options that could help you avoid the consequences of a felony conviction.

Contact us immediately to share your concerns with our seasoned attorneys. Let us help you break free of the restrictions imposed by your encounter with the criminal justice system.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is a Federal Crime?

A federal crime violates federal law or is committed against a federal organization or on federal property. Crimes that are committed across state lines are also classified as federal crimes.

These crimes are typically investigated by federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and prosecuted in federal courts. Their punishment is also considered stricter than the penalties for similar crimes under state law. 

What Are Some Examples of Federal Crimes?

There are different types of federal crimes, many of which have their counterparts under state law. Some of the common federal crimes include;

  • Drug trafficking

  • White collar crimes

  • Espionage

  • Federal conspiracy.

These crimes are notoriously difficult to defend due to the overwhelming resources federal prosecutors possess. Anyone facing such charges must ensure that they are represented by a federal criminal defense attorney who can match the federal prosecutors’ skill if they hope to emerge from their trial unscathed.