The Problem With Expungement
With the thriving age of the Internet, many are finding it difficult to prevent personal information from going public. Everyone has that Facebook photo they wish would have never been published, but once the reach of the internet affects you livelihood, the situation becomes much more serious. Expungements, specifically, are in high demand more than ever before due to the expansion of online background-checking services preventing countless Americans from obtaining and even maintaining jobs, apartment leases, mortgages, and higher education.
Even more, background checks are not limited to corporate use, but to all types of employers–87% of employers use background-checking services in their hiring process.
â€œBut I was never convicted.â€
Even if you were accused of a crime but never convicted, this information may still be public knowledge, available for evaluation by employers, housing, lenders, and admissions offices. Though many states legally prohibit the employersâ€™ right to refuse employment due to non convicted crimes and arrests on a candidateâ€™s record, the information is easily accessible and difficult to ignore when considering a potential employee. Because it is often hard to prove, it can be assumed that the presence of non-conviction data on one personâ€™s record has influenced the employerâ€™s conscious or subconscious decision, causing that person to lose the job to another candidate.
â€œBut it was ten years ago.â€
It seems that in the past decade, background-checking services have reached their peak in popularity for employers. A person that might have had no issue applying for and landing a job in 2002 might have an extremely hard time finding employment in 2013 because of their publicly-available record. The explosion of background-checking websites in addition to employer reliance on these services has transformed this era into a strikingly harsh environment for those carrying a record with them on the job hunt.
What you need to do
With the help of an experienced expungement attorney, all of your records involving prior charges and arrests in your state may be erased by filing an official court request. If the request is approved, you are officially expunged. With this granted, are now legally permitted to deny the occurrence of your arrest and expungement. Not all states are alike, some court systems are more strict on expungements like Pennsylvania, a state that even prohibits expungements for misdemeanors. In the state of Texas, the judge will consider expungement of your record if:
- you were arrested but not charged
- you received a â€œnot guiltyâ€ verdict
- your criminal case was dismissed
- your case was dismissed after completion of deferred adjudication probation for a class C misdemeanor
- someone else was arrested under your name
- you were convicted at the trial level but acquitted at Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
- you received an official pardon from your stateâ€™s Governor or the President of the United States
Will my expungement be updated on background-checking websites?
Some background-checking services fail to update their databases and keep up with expungements–these companies are not yet legally forced to remove expunged records from their information stores. Luckily, some large background checking services are removing all expunged records from their databases. For instance, CriminalRecords.us.orgÂ has announced their new policy of expungement upon judge approval. A spokesperson for the background checking service said in a press release this past August, â€œWhen someone is arrested, the information immediately goes into our public database, but sometimes a judge will later expunge or seal those records. When that happens, we will now remove those records from our system as soon as we can.â€ This is hopeful because CriminalRecords.us.org is a large and well-known background-checking service, and the companyâ€™s initiative will most likely spur similar services to follow its lead.
Kristen Valek is a blogger for Carroll Troberman Criminal Defense, an Austin-based law group dedicated to defending its clients. Kristen thinks expungement is a very interesting aspect of criminal law.
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