There is a saying that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush— it is like that with rights restoration— do it when you can because you never know what will go wrong. There are a few common reasons people wish they’d cleaned up their records sooner.
Limit the Reach of Your Conviction:
One reason to clean up your record as soon as possible is to limit the number of people and organizations that know about it. A set aside does not rewrite history. If an employer finds out about a conviction they can use it against you, even after it is set aside. Likewise with computer databases that store information about people. The sooner you clear up your record, the less chance of being swept up in their dragnet.
Clean up your Record in Case you Become Ineligible:
Every criminal defense attorney has many stories of clients who did worse in court because of a criminal history the hadn’t cleaned up. Once a person faces new charges, expungement and set aside are off the table. To make matters worse, the once-expungable conviction can be used against you at sentencing. People don’t plan on getting a new charge, but anyone who has been through the criminal justice system knows innocent people get charged and convicted all the time.
Finally, laws can change for the worse. There are several classes of people who once qualified for rights restoration, but after a change to the laws found themselves unable to clean up their records. Even as recently as 2018, a change in the reduction statute appears to have disqualified anyone who went to prison. A month before the change we were able to reduce such convictions.
Set aside laws have also changed to exclude some people who were once eligible. The fact that a crime was eligible at the time of conviction does not matter. If the laws change, your Rights Restoration opportunities change as well.
People should clean up criminal records as soon as they are eligible. If you have questions about rights restoration, call Lohrke Law. A phone consultation with an attorney will determine cost and eligibility.