FREE Case Review (866) 588-0600

How Long Does a Misdemeanor Stay On Your Record?

Awards & recognition
C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt
Free Consultation
If you or a loved one think you may have a claim, you should contact a personal injury lawyer immediately.

You may be entitled to recover compensation and our legal team can help. Please click the button below for a Free Consultation or call us toll-free 24 hrs/day for legal advice by dialing (866) 588-0600.

Start My Free Case Evaluation

The primary question posed by someone facing misdemeanor charges or a conviction is how long the record will stay on their file. It's important to note that having misdemeanors listed can cause detrimental repercussions, including difficulty securing employment opportunities.

With over a decade of experience as a criminal defense lawyer, I can share valuable insight into the amount of time a misdemeanor will remain on your criminal record.

Here’s what you need to know.

Quick Summary

  • A misdemeanor remains on your criminal history forever. However, in some cases, the duration varies by state and circumstance.
  • Although misdemeanors don't always result in a conviction, they are still criminal charges you may face.
  • To clear your record of a misdemeanor, you can either have it expunged or sealed.

What Is a Misdemeanor?

A lawyer looking up the definition of misdemeanor

A misdemeanor is a criminal offense that often leads to less severe punishments, such as no more than one year in county jail and a penalty of up to $1,000.

They are viewed as more consequential than an infraction but not quite as serious as felonies [1].

You may have encountered misdemeanors in your everyday life, some of the most common being:

  • DUI
  • Shoplifting 
  • Domestic Violence without significant damage.

If you were accused of a minor misdemeanor charge, chances are it will stay on your record for approximately two years. For example, trespassing and some forms of sexual harassment are considered misdemeanor offenses. 

Misdemeanor Charge vs. Misdemeanor Conviction

Being charged with a misdemeanor offense doesn't always lead to an official conviction. To be formally accused of a lower-level crime is one thing; however, being lawfully guilty of the charge is another matter altogether. 

Being convicted means that you have been found responsible for committing a misdemeanor by law.

How Long Does a Misdemeanor Stay On Your Record?

A lawyer looking at a person's misdemeanor recordA misdemeanor stays on your record for life, though in some cases, the length of time may vary by state and situation. Depending on where you live, a misdemeanor will remain on your record for anywhere from 7 to 10 years or forever.

In certain jurisdictions, a major misdemeanor can remain on your record for up to ten years. So if you have been charged with domestic violence or driving under the influence of alcohol, this offense will live longer than other minor offenses. 

Typically these kinds of reports appear in criminal records approximately a decade after the incident occurred.

Related Article: Drunk Driving Accident Lawsuit

See all related personal injury and accident lawsuits our lawyers have taken on.

How to Get Out of a Misdemeanor?

To get out of a misdemeanor, you'll either must have it expunged or sealed. While these choices achieve a similar outcome, they each have unique qualities that set them apart.

Securing records with locks is what we refer to as sealing. This ensures that only government agencies have access to those confidential documents.

After you expunge your records, it's almost as if the misdemeanor charge was never on your record in the first place. The court does not keep any legally-binding paper or digital documents regarding this offense either.

When a misdemeanor is sealed, the general public cannot access your information; however, government-approved institutions authorized to perform an extensive criminal background check may still be able to view your records.

Will a Misdemeanor Show Up on Criminal Background Checks?

A person checking his criminal recordYes, a misdemeanor will show up on criminal background checks. A misdemeanor offense is not something you can keep hidden from an employer. 

If your criminal history includes a misdeed, it will most likely be revealed during criminal background checks conducted by the hiring workforce.

Therefore, taking responsibility for any misdemeanors on your record and coming forward with this information before someone else does it is highly recommended.

If you're searching for a job away from where your misdemeanor offense took place, it won't appear on the background check associated with hiring.

In any case, you mustn't assume that potential employers won't uncover a misdemeanor offense. If asked on an employment form whether you have been convicted of a crime, be honest and answer truthfully. 

Fortunately, for those living in areas with ban-the-box legislation that stops recruiters from inquiring about criminal history, it is perfectly reasonable not to provide this information.

Can an Expungement Help Remove Your Misdemeanor?

A lawyer reading up on expungementYes, an expungement can help remove your misdemeanor from your criminal record. Felony convictions can be almost impossible to completely clear from your record, whereas misdemeanors are frequently much easier to expunge.

As the years pass since your conviction, your chances of misdemeanor expungement become more favorable. 

Additionally, if you have no other criminal or misdemeanor charges on record, that can significantly increase your prospects for a successful expungement. However, a case where expungement is not eligible is in child sex crime convictions.

To be able to pursue expungement, you must first investigate the regulations in your state to make sure that your conviction is qualified. If it is eligible, talking with a lawyer will help you better understand how to file the petition and argue before the court.

If you have a misdemeanor conviction, you may be eligible for expungement. If the court grants your request, the charge will become legally discharged and no longer show up on background checks or be used as grounds to reject employment consideration.

With criminal records expunged, you can honestly answer "no" when asked about criminal history on applications.

Related Articles:


Can a Record Seal Help With Misdemeanors?

Yes, a record seal can help with misdemeanors. A sealed record is still usually off-limits for individuals to gain access. Plus, once your record has been successfully sealed, you can deny any criminal convictions under oath, even if it's true.

Is a Misdemeanor a Criminal Offense?

Yes, a misdemeanor is a criminal offense. Convicted misdemeanors are subject to punishments such as community service, fines, probation, and jail time of up to 12 months. In other words - committing a misdemeanor is not something that should be taken lightly, as it can have serious legal repercussions.

How Do I Clean My Criminal Record?

To clean your criminal record, you can either apply to have it expunged or sealed. Expungement will remove the charge from your record and make it invisible to employers, landlords, and other organizations, while sealing a record means only relevant court personnel can view the records, but they won't be visible in public or private searches.

Can I Get a Job With a Criminal Record?

Yes, you can get a job with a criminal record. After an employer learns of your criminal record and peruses your disclosure, they will likely choose to offer you the job.

Will a Charge With No Misdemeanor Conviction Show Up on a Background Check?

Yes, a charge with no misdemeanor conviction will show up on a background check. Unfortunately, even though a case may have been dismissed or resulted in an acquittal, the information will still appear on any background check.

Get A Free Consultation With a Criminal Defense Attorney

If you were charged with a misdemeanor, contact Schmidt & Clark for a free consultation with a criminal defense attorney. By leveraging a legal defense, a criminal defense lawyer can strive to prevent you from being convicted. 

Additionally, our criminal defense lawyers can assist you in averting a misdemeanor conviction by collaborating with the district attorney to diminish a misdemeanor crime into an infraction.

They will also be able to help you expunge or seal your record if, unfortunately, you are convicted of any offense.



Free Confidential Case Evaluation

Verified 100% Secure SiteTo contact us for a free review of your potential case, please fill out the form below or call us toll free 24 hrs/day by dialing: (866) 588-0600.