It is commonly know that obtaining employment after an arrest or conviction is rather difficult as future employers run background checks and ask for subsequent information. Expungement allows this process to go a little smoother. Expungement erases criminal records from the public eye so future employers, licensing agencies, education grants agencies, credit card companies, and other corporations will not be able to view them. This kind of legal action is only granted to the few that are eligible. After a petition is made, the court has the right to deny expungement on the grounds that the paperwork was filed incorrectly or not completed fully or that the judge has found that granting the expungement is not in the favor of the court.
Expungement is designed to help those that are trying to better their lives and have been deemed good citizens of the state. Even as expungement is a legal action, it is not a civil right. The court has the power to deny this privilege. It is a sealing of records where only the proper authorities have access to them under extraneous circumstances. This means that criminal records are not completely eliminated physically when expunged. They can still be access and used if the individual commits another crime. In this case the expunged record will act as a prior and will elevate the new crime's punishment. Records can also be accessed when an individual runs for public office or when an individual applies to enter the United States military. Background checks in these instances are absolutely necessary. The only other instance where a sealed filed may be accessed is when a break in the past case has taken place, where new evidence has been found, and charges against the individual will have changed.
Only certain individuals are eligible to apply for expungement in the state of Delaware. When an individual has been charged previously with the commission of a crime or crimes and the case was dismissed in the favor of the individual, he or she may petition for expungement of all police records related to the crime or crimes. This can only happen if the charges were acquitted or a nolle prosequi is entered where all charges were dismissed.
Mandatory expungement is available for those who have been commission of a crime that is designed to be a misdemeanor or a violation of Title four, seven, eleven, sixteen, or twenty-three. This does not include crimes that were not fully dismissed or terminated in the favor of the individual. The State Bureau of Identification may determine that an expungement is mandatory to an individual under certain terms. If this happens the individual will be notified as soon as possible along with the proper courts and police agencies where the records are held. Sixty days after this determination will pass before an expungement is granted and all files are eliminated from the public and placed under the control of the Supervisor of the State Bureau of Identification. The Bureau will insure that the records are retained within this department. See also:
Delaware Misdemeanor External link (opens in new window)
Delaware Felony External link (opens in new window)
Delaware Gun Laws External link (opens in new window)