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October 30, 2009 Return to News & Events

Criminal Records Expungement

The role, process and reasons for expungement within the criminal background check industry,
along with why it uses and needs the criminal record expungement option.

An expungement proceeding is a legal action in which someone with a criminal conviction record gets approved by a court judge to have their criminal record sealed or destroyed.  The current dictionary definition of an expungement is “The process by which record of criminal conviction is destroyed or sealed after the expiration of time."

There is not one universal way to get criminal conviction records expunged.  The laws surrounding expunging records from file are different from state to state and jurisdiction to jurisdiction.  The process itself is not a criminal proceeding, but a civil action where the person wishing to eliminate a certain criminal record goes before a judge as the plaintiff, and then makes a request for their criminal record to be removed as a public record.  Even if the request is granted the criminal record in question would still exist to certain government eyes, but would no longer be of public record.  To the person getting the expungement, they can go on as if the criminal record never existed and legally does not have to tell any future employer or anyone else about the expunged criminal record.  Criminal records are indeed public records as criminals are not a protected class and their criminal activity (crimes for which they have been convicted of in a court of law) remains available to the general public.

Most often, once a criminal record is sealed or expunged, all records relating to the court case get removed from public record.  In many instances online criminal data providers may still show expunged records in their repositories.  They do of course (by law) have to delete these records, but must be given notice first.  After a judge has formally expunged a criminal record on an individual, that person can then legally deny or fail to acknowledge ever having been convicted with that crime.  This means that the person whose record is expunged can treat the event as if it never occurred.

Eligibility for an expungement of a criminal conviction record is based on the current law of the jurisdiction/court in which the criminal record was created. The person to whom the criminal record is attached to is usually the only one that can petition for an expungement. In order to qualify for consideration of an expungement the individual in question must meet certain conditions before a formal hearing can take place.   Here are some general conditions usually in place in any US State or jurisdiction:

  • The seriousness of the offense convicted of and the type of offense committed (felony vs. misdemeanor etc.)
  • Completing satisfactorily the terms of any previous sentence
  • The amount of past incidents that are on your file
  • You must have completed all probation requirements without any incidents
  • Satisfying a certain waiting period between the incident and expungement
  • Cannot have any incidents that interfere or intersect with the criminal record in question
  • Cannot have any other ongoing or pending criminal investigations or proceedings at the time of request gets requests all the time asking to remove criminal conviction records from its system and to permanently delete them from all source data feeds containing the criminal record. always complies with these requests as long as they are backed up with the appropriate legal documents.  Only a United States judge can grant an expungement.

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