When you face criminal charges, your best bet is a good defense. Depending on how the case goes, you may still end up with charges against you. But after the sentencing and the time served, you have no reason to continue your life with that history hanging on your shoulders.

You clear your record through expungement. As Delaware statutes explain, there are a number of ways to clear your record if you are eligible.

Mandatory expungement

Depending on the charges and the time passed, courts shall expunge your records if you apply for it. If you meet the requirements, those charges can be as good as gone. These generally involve misdemeanor charges and require timeframes based on the result of the case: no time for arrests and charges, three years for violation convictions and five years for misdemeanor convictions.

Misdemeanors that fall out of this statute include sexual harassment, hate crimes and resisting arrest. But they are not impossible to expunge.

Discretionary expungement

This method involves many of the misdemeanors excluded from mandatory expungement and include, depending on the charges, some felonies. Provided you served your sentence and have no outstanding charges against you at the time of application, expunging these records is possible. For the misdemeanors listed as excluded charges under mandatory expungement — as well as any convicted felonies — the time that needs to elapse is 7 years from the date of conviction or release from incarceration, whichever is later.

Expungement is a matter of your future. These charges may loom over you for employment, housing and other applications. After serving your time, you deserve to put the past behind you.