Those who have committed crimes in their past know that even one conviction can haunt you for decades. A criminal background check for a new job or a rental situation will flag any kind of criminal activity—no matter when it occurred. A criminal past can feel like an unbreakable chain tying you to a decision you’d rather put behind you.

However, the Criminal Justice Reform Act of 2019 is a step toward freedom from criminal association for some convicted felons in Mississippi. Those who’ve served their time and successfully reentered society may finally be able to leave the label “felon” behind, if their original crime qualifies for expungement under the 2019 Act.

What is expungement?

Expunging a criminal record means erasing it legally. Unlike a sealed record, which can be reopened under the right circumstances, an expunged record is deleted from the system completely. It is not a pardon. Rather, think of it like deleting the record of a completed task.

What additional crimes now qualify for expungement?

The previous list of crimes eligible for expungement was small. Now, all felons are eligible for expungement, as long as they were never convicted of the following:

  • Violent crime
  • First-degree arson
  • Drug trafficking
  • Third and subsequent DUI convictions
  • Possession of a firearm as a convicted felon
  • Voyeurism
  • Witness intimidation

Additionally, a person can now petition for secondary misdemeanors to be expunged once their records have been clean for at least two years.

Expungement could grant wider opportunities and offer fresh hope to individuals with criminal backgrounds.