How Long Does Domestic Violence Stay on Your Record?

December 22nd, 2021 by Attorney Dan Carman

How Long Does Domestic Violence Stay on Your Record?

Having domestic violence on your record can have long-term consequences. No matter what happened, many people will see you as a violent criminal. You may be excluded from jobs, housing, and other opportunities. This can last for your entire life, as there is no defined time limit for how long domestic violence stays on your record. However, there are steps that you may be able to take to get domestic violence off of your record.

How Long Does a Misdemeanor Domestic Violence Conviction Stay on Your Record?

If you’re familiar with credit reports, you might know that certain types of credit history expire after different amounts of time. For example, a bankruptcy typically stays on your credit report for seven years. There is no equivalent expiration period when it comes to a criminal record.

A misdemeanor domestic violence conviction will remain on your record for life. Any time someone checks the court records or runs a background check on you, they will see that conviction. It is up to them to decide how they want to use that information. The court records will have the date of the conviction, but many people won’t care how long ago it was if they see that it was for domestic violence.

How Long Does a Felony Domestic Violence Conviction Stay on Your Record?

A felony is more serious than a misdemeanor, so it should come as no surprise that a felony domestic violence conviction will also stay on your record for life. Having a felony on your record can have worse consequences than a misdemeanor. Some jobs automatically exclude felons. You also lose civil rights like the right to vote and the right to own a gun. Additionally, someone who may have been willing to give you a chance for a misdemeanor from long ago may not be willing to give the same chance to a felon.

How Long Does a Dropped Domestic Violence Charge Stay on Your Record?

A dropped domestic violence charge can stay on your record for life. While there is a constitutional right to be presumed innocent, the truth is that many people will make assumptions about why you were charged and still hold the charges against you. They may not care to find out that you might have been found innocent after it was proven that you were arrested based on a completely false complaint. The only thing that will matter to many people is that when they run a background check on you, they see a domestic violence charge.

Can You Ever Get Domestic Violence Off of Your Record?

Even though domestic violence charges and convictions never expire, it is sometimes possible to get them off of your record. The most common way is through expungement. Expungement is a legal term for having part of your criminal history removed. After an expungement, the expunged records are essentially erased from public view, as if they never happened.

How Can You Get a Dropped Charge Off of Your Record?

If your charges were dropped or dismissed, you are entitled to have them removed from your record. There is a waiting period that depends on why the charges were dropped or dismissed.

  • If you were acquitted (found not guilty) or your charges were dismissed with prejudice (can’t be brought again), you can have them expunged after 60 days. For cases after July 2020, this is supposed to happen automatically. You can file a form with the court where you were convicted for older charges or if your charges aren’t expunged automatically due to a mistake.
  • If your charges were dismissed without prejudice (can be brought again), it depends on whether the charges were a misdemeanor or a felony. A misdemeanor can be expunged after one year. A felony can be expunged after three years. This assumes that the prosecutor didn’t refile the charges even though they had the ability to.
  • If you were arrested on felony charges but were never indicted, you can file for an expungement after six months.

How Can You Get a Misdemeanor Domestic Violence Conviction Off of Your Record?

A misdemeanor domestic violence conviction can generally be expunged after five years after you complete your sentence. For example, if you got arrested in 2020, went to trial in 2021, and got out of jail in 2022, you would be eligible for expungement in 2027.

Unlike when there is a dropped or dismissed charge, you are not entitled to have your expungement approved automatically. It is at the judge’s discretion, and the prosecutor has the right to object. In practice, most properly filed expungements do get approved.

How Can You Get a Felony Domestic Violence Conviction Off of Your Record?

If you were convicted of felony domestic violence, you may not be able to get the charge off of your record. Kentucky allows felony expungements only for a specific list of Class-D felonies. Most of the crimes on this list are property or drug crimes. The list does not include crimes of violence, such as assault, that you might be convicted of in connection with domestic violence. If you don’t see your charge listed, you can consult with a criminal defense attorney to find out if there is any way to have it removed from your record.

Do You Need Help Removing Domestic Violence from Your Record?

If you’ve been accused, charged, or convicted of domestic violence and need help getting it off of your record, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. You can call Lexington Defense at 859-685-1055 to learn more about how the process works and whether you’re eligible.