What Is the Difference Between a Dismissal and Expungement?

Record Sealing Expungement

“Case dismissed!” They are the two words that every defendant hopes to hear. You may think that they’ll serve to wipe the slate clean, but is having a criminal case dismissed as good as it sounds?

Some people have learned to their dismay that the dismissal of their cases did not provide the relief for which they’d hoped. That’s because in contrast to a finding of innocence, a case dismissal may have occurred only because:

  • The judge or jury failed to find probable cause.
  • You were the victim of an illegal stop or seizure.
  • You completed a program of treatment or public service.
  • A key prosecution witness refused or was unable to testify.
  • The evidence against you lacked the quality and substance required to prove your guilt.

The way in which your case was dismissed is another vital consideration. If the courts have dismissed it without prejudice, you are still at risk of being retried for the same crime. On the other hand, if your case was dismissed with prejudice, the prosecution has washed its hands of it and has no intention of trying you again.

It’s important to us that our clients understand one thing: Although a dismissal will allow you to walk free, the details of your case remain on the public record and readily available for viewing by anyone who cares to investigate your criminal history. The list of potentially interested parties includes:

  • Attorneys.
  • Current or potential employers.
  • Lending officers.
  • Leasing agents.
  • Traffic cops.
  • Everyday citizens.

Even though a criminal record may show a dismissal as opposed to a conviction, we have seen too many cases where just the fact that a criminal record exists at all will throw a monkey wrench into the lives of people for whom the original charges might well have been bogus.

That is why the criminal defense attorneys at Gregory & Waldo will never settle for a simple dismissal of your case. Whenever possible, we will continue to fight until we succeed in having the records of your case removed from public view entirely.

Dismissal and Expungement

After the dismissal of a case, an expungement wipes the slate clean by erasing or destroying all documentation that relates to it in any way. The criminal record will disappear, and anyone who cares to look will come away with the impression that there was no arrest to begin with. It should go without saying that a case dismissal followed by a record expungement is far superior to the dismissal alone.

In many jurisdictions, a person whose case has been dismissed with prejudice can immediately apply for the expungement of all records that have a connection with the case. While this is an option for which not everyone will qualify, the chances for an expungement are greater if the person who seeks it has never been convicted of a previous crime.

Is Record Expungement an Option in Nevada?

Unfortunately, record expungement is not available in Nevada. This is a state in which the sealing of criminal records is the only option. While the sealing of records does lock them away from most prying eyes, it does nothing to destroy them. The records will still exist, and they will be viewable by certain law enforcement agencies, judges and those directly involved with the case.

This is in stark contrast to an expungement in which criminal records vanish completely without a trace. Some people will argue that because both sealing and expungement prevent the public at large from viewing the details of the case, there is little practical difference between the two. However, an expungement and a record sealing are far from one and the same. The expungement’s record-destroying aspect will always stand as the defining difference between the two.

Have you been charged of having committed a criminal offense in or around Las Vegas, Nevada? If so, the legal team of Gregory & Waldo will be happy to represent you with the aim of having you found innocent or getting your case dismissed with prejudice followed by a sealing of the record. This is certain to be a stressful and bewildering time for you, and you will surely have questions about your case.

You can count on Gregory & Waldo to address your concerns and help you through this difficult period. Don’t try to fight the charges against you on your own. Call our criminal attorneys today at 702-830-7925 today and let us get an immediate start in mounting your defense.