Before you decide how to apologize for a past mistake on your criminal record, determine what you hope to accomplish with your apology and frame your statement accordingly. Take time to think about what you want to say and make sure that you understand the feelings and perceptions of the person to whom you are apologizing. Think through the potential reactions of that person and what may result before you offer an apology.
Be sincere. Only apologize when and if you are sincerely sorry for the past mistake on your criminal record. Disingenuous apologies will not reflect well on your current character.
Choose the appropriate method of delivery. If you are telling a friend or relative that you are sorry, a verbal apology may be appropriate. If you must apologize to a victim, employer or other person with whom you are not intimately familiar, consider apologizing in writing, through a letter or memo.
Explain the situation. In your apology, it is acceptable to describe what circumstances led up to the mistake, particularly if these facts did not come out at the time of your arrest or conviction.
Take responsibility for your actions. Avoid making excuses for your behavior. Instead, own up to your past mistakes and explain what you have learned from your criminal record. If you have gone through therapy, substance abuse treatment or have otherwise resolved the issues that led to your past actions, discuss how this help contributes to your current understanding of the situation.
Recognize the negative effects that your behavior has had on others. In your apology, acknowledge any pain and hardship you have caused, giving the other person a chance to express his feelings on what happened.