Expungement is the process of sealing a criminal record so the information no longer shows through most types of background checks. It is not available to everyone and does not apply to all situations.
According to the Congressional Research Service, states typically have a formal expungement process, but things are much different at the federal level where the process does not really exist.
Expungement at the federal level looks a lot different than that at the state level. Federal rules only really allow for this process for those who have proven unlawfully arrests and convictions. If a person’s case went by the book and was all above board, there is little to do to expunge that record.
Complicating things is that there is not an agreement on the authority to expunge. Federal appellate courts may hold the right, but some feel they do not. It is not clear where authority lies or how the process should work at the federal level.
Furthermore, even when a person may meet the basic requirement of getting an expungement, there are only a few situations in which a court will actually go through with it. There are only three situations in which a person will be eligible for expungement.
The first is if a person was under the age of 21 with a clean record and got a drug possession charge. If this is your situation, then you can seek federal expungement. The second situation is if the law used to convict you is later determined to be unconstitutional. The final situation is if a judge orders your conviction was a result of government misconduct.
There is one other area that could lead to an expungement. If your case involved inaccurate information, then it is possible you can get an expungement to correct that.