Expungements – What You Need to Know
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Differences Between Expungements and Pardons
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Many times people confuse expungements with pardons. However, an expungement and a pardon are two different things! If a person receives an expungement, he or she may usually treat the crime that was expunged as if it never occurred. For example, a person would generally not have to list the expunged crime on a job application. But each jurisdiction treats expungements differently. That means sometimes the expunged crimes are not treated as if they disappeared. There are some exceptions where expunged crimes must be listed on job applications – like when applying for some government jobs (as previously mentioned).

In contrast, a pardon is not a judicial action like an expungement. A pardon may be granted by a state governor or the President of the United States (depending on the nature of the crime). For example, acts which violate state law can generally only be pardoned by that state’s governor, while certain federal crimes can only be pardoned by the President of the United States.

Additionally, a person who receives a pardon cannot treat the crime as if it never occurred. In fact, a person who receives a pardon for a crime must list that crime on job applications and other public documents that request it. This is a big difference from expungements, which often do not have to be listed on such documents.

Please read "Presidential Pardons" for more information on pardons.

Next, let’s take a look at how to find a lawyer when obtaining an expungement.