If you have successfully expunged or sealed your criminal record, in most cases you can answer “no” when asked if you have a criminal record. Many states and the federal government allow disclosure of an expunged record in limited situations where the public good is balanced against the person’s expectation that the expunged record will remain off-limits. Many states and the federal government allow disclosure of an expunged record in limited situations where the public interest is balanced against the individual’s expectation that the expunged record will remain off-limits. However, each state has its own laws that determine who is eligible for expungement, what crimes can be expunged, the procedures for requesting it, and how records are managed under an expungement order.
But what happens if, for example, a potential employer or a prosecutor asks for all records relating to you to be disclosed? Will the court (or the clerk in the registrar’s office) always says “no records” despite the expungement order? That depends on the law in your state and who is making the request.
Can an expunged criminal record be used against you?
Even if your criminal record qualifies under the above guidelines, you will not automatically be granted an expungement. If your arrest is expunged, all parties subject to the order are required to redact, expunge or destroy all records related to the arrest (except for limited expungements, the appropriate law enforcement agencies and prosecutors are allowed to retain the records). If you were wrongfully arrested, you probably do not want that wrongful arrest to prevent you from getting a job, and you certainly do not want the public to find the records of that arrest. You may want to save yourself the embarrassment of having to explain a wrongful arrest when someone checks your background.
Can people see the deleted records?
In theory, expunging an entry means that it is removed from any publicly accessible databases or court records. Check with the courts in the country where you were convicted to see if your convictions can be expunged. This does not apply to multiple charges for the same offense if only some of the charges have been dropped. If you apply for a pre-employment background check, the report should not include information from an expunged or sealed criminal record, but sometimes it does.
Will expunged records show up on FBI background checks?
When a court grants a motion to expunge or seal a criminal record, it directs a number of different agencies, including the District Attorney’s Office and the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), to “remove from their publicly available records any references that show the defendant to be under arrest. Organizations that conduct FBI background checks include the military and some healthcare or childcare professions. An FBI background check is more comprehensive than the background check you would undergo for a regular job or as part of a rental application. Once a criminal record is expunged, a person does not have to disclose the previous offense when applying for a job or filling out a rental application.
Alex Adekola is a thought leader in the reputation management industry who has targeted mugshot publishers since 2012. Alex Adekola is the longest-serving reputation management director online and has written a book on mugshot removal. He is the creator and director of strategy at RemoveMyMugshot.org and MyClearSearch.com.