How To Check If Your Record Has Been Expunged

If you’re considering or have already had your record expunged, you’re probably curious about who can see it once it’s been done. There is no straightforward answer because expungement requirements vary by state, but this article can aid you in identifying who can see your record based on the state in which it is located.

While the outcomes of a successful expungement vary by state, there are a few general principles to follow. Your deleted records are unlikely to be found by private employers, landlords, or others that conduct background checks on you. After your record has been cleaned, most states enable you to legally answer “no” when asked about criminal records on employment or rental applications.

You may not be aware if your record has been expunged though, and will perhaps want to know before you begin applying to new jobs. Here are some ways for you to check your records. 

How To Find Out If Your Record Is Expunged 

1. Check Your Record

You can do a criminal background check on yourself to find out what is on your record. Bear in mind that if you are still going through the expunging process then your record will not yet appear clean until the request has been granted. 

2. Contact Your Lawyer

As an expansion is a court order signed by a judge for your criminal records to be destroyed, your lawyer or whoever is handling your case will be notified of this happening. They can then pass this message on to you.

When your records are expunged, you will be able to get a copy of this order from the judge through your lawyer, so make a few copies for this as you never know when it may be useful to have, especially in job interviews. Keep these records in a secure place like a safety deposit box at a bank.

3. Visit The Courts

A lot of time you can visit the court you had your trial in and ask to access your records, though it is best to call ahead first to see if this service is available in your local court. 

My Records Have Been Expunged, Why Can Some People Still See Them?

In some cases, you may notice that your expunged records are still appearing on background checks or in court documents. There are a few reasons that this may happen, with rules varying from state to state. Here are the main reasons why someone may be able to access your records. 

California

An expunged record is a dismissal in which the conviction is erased but the court record is preserved. Except for three conditions, a person can honestly dispute being convicted.

If you are currently charged with a different criminal offense from the one you are trying to expunge; you are serving a sentence for a criminal offense, or you are on probation for a criminal offense, you will not be able to have your records expunged. 

North Carolina 

Expunged records are available to state judges. If you are arrested for a second offense, the court will take into account your previously expunged offenses during your trial.

Utah

Both state and federal law enforcement agencies have access to erased records. State professional licensing organizations (such as the Board of Education) will have access to your information if you apply for a concealed weapons permit, and your record will be sent to the Bureau of Criminal Identification. 

Nevada

No one can see the expunged records except the Nevada Gaming Commission, and only if the NGC can secure a court order. The sealed record may be unsealed if the person is indicted for another crime.

Mississippi

If your conviction is expunged in Mississippi, you must declare it if you apply for a position in the military or with a law enforcement agency, or if you seek a professional license (such as attorney or physician).

Other Reasons 

Private Company Data Mining 

The most common problem is that private corporations that sell public information over the internet or do background checks for businesses acquire data from the courtroom while the case is active or before it can be destroyed. The expungement is not deleted from the private company’s records after the case is purged by the court.

To find out if this has happened, go to the court where your case was tried and request to see the documents. If they don’t have them, the case was dismissed, and the documents were obtained during the background check from a private company.

As a result, if you ever apply for a job, a lease, or anything else where a background check reveals a prior arrest or court case that was supposed to be expunged, find out who did the background check, where they got the records, and make sure they destroy the record of your arrest or court case so that the problem does not recur.

If you lost your job or your lease because that company failed to delete records that the court ordered to be expunged, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the private corporation that failed to do so.

Human Error

Expungement is a lengthy procedure. Keeping track of documents is critical. People often assume that if a case is dismissed, it will be automatically erased. This is far from the case. The documentation must be filed by you or your lawyer.

It’s possible that the document’s filing clerk or attorney made a mistake. These weaknesses are easily fixed, and if the case meets the criteria, it can still be eliminated; it simply needs to be filed and processed correctly.

You Have Applied For A Job That Does A More Extensive Background Check

The removal of public court records is only one stage in the expungement process, but for the vast majority of people, it is sufficient. Following the court’s expungement of the case, you or your attorney must file a specific request to the FBI to have secret, confidential law enforcement and FBI arrest records erased.

If you’ve had a criminal case or arrest dismissed and want to join law enforcement, the military, or any other job that requires a background check that includes a search of non-public arrest records, ask your lawyer to file an expungement request with the FBI after the court records have been expunged.