Record cleaning for non-citizens

If you are not a United States citizen, your criminal record can affect your ability to get legal status and to keep your status. Your criminal record can also put you at risk of being deported or of being denied re-entry if you leave the United States.

Get legal help

Get advice from an attorney (a lawyer) who knows about immigration law

The best way to clean your record depends on several factors related to your immigration status and goals. An immigration attorney can help you understand which type of record cleaning is best for your situation.

 Legal Help for Cleaning Your Record

Taking back your guilty or no contest plea

In some cases, you can take back your plea if you were not told or did not understand that your plea could affect your immigration status

Before you enter a guilty or no contest plea in a criminal case:

  • The judge must tell you that you could be deported because of your plea
  • Your attorney must also tell you how your guilty or no contest plea will affect your immigration status

If the judge or your attorney did not do that, or if you did not understand what you were being told, you may be able to take back your guilty or no contest plea.

If you would not have pleaded guilty or no contest had you understood the immigration impact, you can take back your plea. You can use Form CR-187 to ask the court to let you take back your plea.

If the court grants the petition, it is like hitting the rewind button on your case—you go back in time to before you entered a guilty or no contest plea. You won’t have the conviction, but you will be facing the charges you had before you took the plea deal.

You may have pled guilty or no contest in your case, but not remember doing so. 

For example, if you only paid a criminal fine or were put on probation, you may not remember that you pled guilty or no contest and have a conviction (criminal record) as a result. Check with your court or talk to a lawyer if you are not sure so they can find out.
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