Many of us sowed wild oats in our youth, and for some that meant lasting consequences in the shape of a criminal record that will not go away. An expungement is an option that can change your life and future opportunities, yet many people consider it too expensive or not a priority.
The Economics of Life With a Criminal Record
Let’s consider a couple of scenarios to determine what kind of difference an expungement can make. Meet John Slate. John went to a party when he was 22, and ended up getting charged and subsequently convicted of a DUI.
Years later, we find John working at XYZ Warehouses as a material handler. His job consists of loading and unloading trucks, and moving material across the warehouses using a lift truck. John works 12 hour shifts: some are day shifts, some are night shift, and he’s scheduled to work every other weekend.
It’s a hard job, but John knows he is lucky to have it: it called for no background check and it only required a high school diploma. He's grateful to have a job, but he wants more career opportunities. John makes $19,300 a year, and he feels one bad decision when he was 22 should not prevent him from the life he wants.
John makes up his mind to change things, and he makes some sacrifices, cutting corners where he can to save some money toward an expungement.
- $154.14 for the filing fee (varies by county)
- $150 for the OSBI expungement processing fee
- $379 a month to an expungement attorney for 3 months
A couple of months later, with a clear record, John goes on his job hunt and finds a Warehouse Supervisor position at another company. His years of experience working at XYZ Warehouse and a pleasant interview (where he had no legal obliation to disclose his former DUI) get him a new position, where the starting salary is $30,300.
John's investment of $1,441.14 for a clear record paid off. At his new job he's making $11,000 more a year, with possibilities for advancement and more money down the road, and his record now looks like there was never anything there.
John decides he has too much on his plate and cannot afford an expungement.
He goes on a job hunt to look for a better paying job, but most of the jobs available "without background checks" offer a lower salary, around $15,000, unlike jobs that require a background and criminal check but offer salaries between $20,000 to $45,000+.
Since other prospects look bleak, John decides to stick it out in his current job. He arrives on time and does everything he can to help out in hopes of a promotion. Toward the end of the year, his boss rewards his dedication with a raise - John's salary is bumped to $21,300 a year.
John ends the year making $2,000 more a year.
Financial Benefits of Getting an Expungement
Getting an expungement is worth much more than the money you can make in a better job with higher wages. You have the opportunity to turn 1k into 11k extra, every year from now on.
Besides the financial advantages, there are many benefits of getting an expungement, including getting your gun rights back, regain your voting rights, and be much more likely to be accepted for higher education, housing and other benefits.