Every criminal charge in Hawaii carries different penalties, ranging from fines to jail time and community service and probation. Many people fixate so completely on jail and other criminal penalties that they fail to consider the secondary consequences of the criminal charges against them.
Some people learn the hard way that having a criminal record can be as damaging to your future as spending time in state custody. A criminal record will affect whether you can enroll at institutions of higher education and obtain financial aid. It can limit your job opportunities and even keep you from renting certain homes.
Your criminal record, including a record of a prior arrest, could hold you back for years to come. Does Hawaii offer expungements or the opportunity to seal your criminal records?
Hawaii will seal certain court records for you
You can expunge the record of your arrest, a process that takes at least 120 days. Any non-conviction arrest is a blemish on your record that you can ask the state to remove from public background search records. In other words, so long as you don’t plead guilty or get convicted, the records from the law enforcement agency and the courts will no longer be accessible to the public.
The courts can also expunge the records of your conviction with a first-time drug offense, an underage drunk driving offense or a first-time property offense. You will actually need to go to court to seal records of actual convictions, rather than the records of your arrest.
Is expungement worth the effort?
Some people question whether taking the effort to permanently remove a blemish, like an arrest or a conviction from years ago, from their record will make much of a difference in their life.
Imagine feeling confident when you apply for a job or a scholarship that your criminal background check won’t limit your opportunities. Imagine how much easier it might be to pursue big advances in your career when you don’t have an embarrassing criminal record affecting how other people view you and possibly even affecting your professional licensing. The benefits of expungement are almost always worth the effort.
Learning more about the criminal justice rules in Hawaii will help you mitigate the consequences of an arrest or conviction.