How JustAnswer Works:

  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.

Ask Zoey_ JD Your Own Question

Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 16249
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
18321761
Type Your Criminal Law Question Here...
Zoey_ JD is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

Almost 5 years ago, I was charged with Theft in the 5th degree.

Resolved Question:

Almost 5 years ago, I was charged with Theft in the 5th degree. I was 21 years old at the time and making the first big mistake in my life. I had never had any legal trouble before this charge, not even a speeding ticket. I had been an honor student through high school and continued to get good grades through college. In addition, I have been heavily involved in school and community activities (considered a leader) and was even awarded a Presidential Volunteer Award.
I consider myself to be a standup citizen and an asset to any company I work for. Luckily, I have been able to hold rather high-level jobs in the past including General Manager for a retail store and Director of a nonprofit organization. However, as I try to further my career now, I am faced with the devastating obstacle of background checks.
I cannot even count how many job applications I have filled out (some even overly qualified for) and had to put down my unfortunate criminal history, resulting in no interviews. I have also lost jobs already hired for once a background check comes back. I’ve been asked to leave 2 jobs after I had left previous ones and already started with the new company, resulting in me being unemployed and not qualifying for unemployment services.
I clearly possess very hirable qualities but remain struggling to find work.
At the time of the charge, my lawyer recommended I get everything done as quickly as possible taking the charge and the lesser fine, rather than having the charge wiped from my record with a higher fine and community service. I expressed my concern for getting jobs after graduation with a simple misdemeanor attached to my name but he assured me it would not be an issue. Had I known just how wrong he was, I would have gladly paid a larger fee and given as much of my time as they wanted.
A mistake made when I was young should not affect my entire career and ultimately, my life. How can you help me?
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 11 months ago.
Hello,

Unfortunately, some states are very tough when it comes to their expungment laws and Iowa will not expunge an adult conviction. If this were a juvenile offense you would be eligible for an expungement. If you got a deferred disposition (case dismissed at the end of probation) you could get that off of your record too. If those exceptions don't apply, as they appear not to, then there are two other things you can try in order to clean up your record.

The first is to apply for a pardon from the governor. That won't wipe the crimes off of your record, but it forgives them and that is stamped on your history. You can read more about the pardon here. It is free to apply and you don't need a lawyer to do it. They are not frequently granted, but you've been out of trouble for 5 years would appear to have had an exemplary history since than and would be a better candidate than many applicants.

For the other, you would need a lawyer and it may prove to be an expensive longshot. That would be to hire a lawyer to petition the court to get the cases back on the calendar and try to get your charge dismissed in the interest of justice. The judge has the power under Equity to do something like that even when the law doesn't provide for it, if it is necessary to prevent an injustice from occurring.

Courts are sparing in their use of the equity power and many don't like to use it at all, but it is something you could explore with a local criminal lawyer who would be able to tell you how viable this would be with your particular judge. If you can get this charge dismissed, then Iowa will expunge it.

Best of luck!!
Customer: replied 11 months ago.

I understand that Iowa has stricter laws that most other states when it comes to getting a record expunged. Do you think there is any way to make a big enough impact on that they would ever consider changing these? I know in many states, they are really trying to help those with simple misdemeanors by having the 'Ban the Box' laws in place. What do you think the chances would be to get Iowa more open to that?

Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 11 months ago.
Hi,

I couldn't possibly tell you this. But the way to go about accomplishing that is to form some kind of grass roots organization and then lobby for the changes in the legislature.

In general, states are starting to liberalize their expungement laws. They haven't all jumped on the bandwagon, but the trend is moving in that direction. So who knows? Generate enough interest and perhaps you can make a difference.
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 16249
Experience: Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
Zoey_ JD and 9 other Criminal Law Specialists are ready to help you

JustAnswer in the News:

 
 
 
Ask-a-doc Web sites: If you've got a quick question, you can try to get an answer from sites that say they have various specialists on hand to give quick answers... Justanswer.com.
JustAnswer.com...has seen a spike since October in legal questions from readers about layoffs, unemployment and severance.
Web sites like justanswer.com/legal
...leave nothing to chance.
Traffic on JustAnswer rose 14 percent...and had nearly 400,000 page views in 30 days...inquiries related to stress, high blood pressure, drinking and heart pain jumped 33 percent.
Tory Johnson, GMA Workplace Contributor, discusses work-from-home jobs, such as JustAnswer in which verified Experts answer people’s questions.
I will tell you that...the things you have to go through to be an Expert are quite rigorous.
 
 
 

What Customers are Saying:

 
 
 
  • Your Expert advise has provided insight on a difficult situation. Thank you so much for the prompt response. I will definitely recommend your website to my friends. Norma Pensacola, FL
< Last | Next >
  • Your Expert advise has provided insight on a difficult situation. Thank you so much for the prompt response. I will definitely recommend your website to my friends. Norma Pensacola, FL
  • Mr. Kaplun clearly had an exceptional understanding of the issue and was able to explain it concisely. I would recommend JustAnswer to anyone. Great service that lives up to its promises! Gary B. Edmond, OK
  • My Expert was fast and seemed to have the answer to my taser question at the tips of her fingers. Communication was excellent. I left feeling confident in her answer. Eric Redwood City, CA
  • I am very pleased with JustAnswer as a place to go for divorce or criminal law knowledge and insight. Michael Wichita, KS
  • PaulMJD helped me with questions I had regarding an urgent legal matter. His answers were excellent. Three H. Houston, TX
  • Anne was extremely helpful. Her information put me in the right direction for action that kept me legal, possible saving me a ton of money in the future. Thank you again, Anne!! Elaine Atlanta, GA
  • It worked great. I had the facts and I presented them to my ex-landlord and she folded and returned my deposit. The 50 bucks I spent with you solved my problem. Tony Apopka, FL
 
 
 

Meet The Experts:

 
 
 
  • Fran L.

    JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor

    Satisfied Customers:

    8061
    18 yrs of NYC public defense. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
< Last | Next >
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/RE/retiredlawyer/2012-6-6_19326_franL.64x64.jpg Fran L.'s Avatar

    Fran L.

    JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor

    Satisfied Customers:

    8061
    18 yrs of NYC public defense. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/RA/ratioscripta/2012-6-13_2955_foto3.64x64.jpg Ely's Avatar

    Ely

    Counselor at Law

    Satisfied Customers:

    2079
    Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/NA/nathanmoorelaw/2011-5-31_21375_headshotbig.64x64.jpg Nate's Avatar

    Nate

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    1625
    Over 10 years of criminal defense practice.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/LA/LawTalk/2012-6-6_17379_LawTalk.64x64.JPG LawTalk's Avatar

    LawTalk

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    1434
    30 years legal experience
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/PH/philip.simmons/2012-6-7_161915_BIGPhilipSimmons.64x64.jpg P. Simmons's Avatar

    P. Simmons

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    1418
    16 yrs. of experience including criminal law.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/marshadjd/2009-6-1_194320_marshajd.jpg Marsha411JD's Avatar

    Marsha411JD

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    1380
    Licensed attorney with 27 yrs. exp. in criminal law
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/RO/RobertJDFL/2012-6-6_175352_7538220120606.64x64.jpg RobertJDFL's Avatar

    RobertJDFL

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    1300
    Experienced in multiple areas of the law.