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Delaware Expungement Laws

There are many legal phrases that can trace their origin back to Latin. Even the word "alibi" is Latin for "some other place." One Latin phrase you might hear a lot in connection with a criminal case is "nolle prosequi." This essentially means that a prosecutor has decided not to move forward with the complaint; they are dropping the case. In Delaware, if you have been arrested, charged but then granted a nolle prosequi you are entitled to have your criminal records expunged.

Delaware expungement laws don't completely "disappear" those records but if an expungement has been granted those records are no longer available for public review or searches. This will matter for any background check that a potential employer might require. If your record has been expunged then you can legally state that it never happened. The records that are expunged can include all arrest files, courtroom transcripts or correctional facility files. Who is eligible for an expungement in Delaware? A juvenile who was charged with an act of delinquency that was later dismissed, dropped or found to be innocent can have their records expunged if it has been at least three years since the initial matter occurred with no other incident. They can also request to have their records expungement by presenting a letter with their intent to enlist in the armed services.

For adults who have a charge in a family court, the same rules apply. Their record can be expunged if the case was dismissed or they were found innocent. In a criminal complaint, there are exceptions as to which type of offenses can be expunged even with a dismissal or innocent verdict. Among those exceptions are charges of sex offense, unlawful imprisonment, interference with child custody, trespassing with the intent to "peep" or child endangerment. A governor's pardon supersedes all of those restrictions and allows for a complete expungement of the records.

After filing the proper paperwork, the court is required to take up the matter within 30 days for juveniles seeking expungement in Delaware. With adults charged in family court, the district attorney will have 30 days to object or request and additional hearing. With criminal charges that have been dismissed, an adult can obtain an expungement provided they haven't been charged with any other offense since the original charge. As with any matter involving the courts, it's always best to be prepared. Part of that preparation should include consultation with a lawyer who is experienced in expungement procedures.

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