What is an expungement? An expungement is the destroying of a criminal record so it is not publicly available. Many people have the misconception that if they are found “not guilty” or their case is dismissed, the records no longer exist. Unfortunately, that is NOT true. Even if a charge has been dismissed the arrest records can be obtained by the public for private use, such as an employment background investigation. Many employers use public searches to investigate potential employees. Obviously, you do not want future or current employers to find out about any past legal problems, especially ones that you were falsely accused of resulting in a dismissal.
Who is eligible for an expungement? A person who has been arrested for a criminal matter is entitled to have all records and files relating to the arrest expunged if:
- an indictment charging him with a felony has not been presented against him for the crime for which he was arrested, or
- an indictment was presented and it has been dismissed because of an absence of probable cause at the time of the dismissal to believe the person committed the offense, or
- the person arrested has been released, the charge has not resulted in a final conviction and is no longer pending, and there was no court ordered supervision, and
- the person arrested has not been convicted of a felony in the five years preceding the date of the arrest.
If I am asked if I have ever been arrested before and those records are expunged, am I obligated to tell him? Following entry of an expunction order, the release or the use of the expunged records and files for any purpose is prohibited. That means that you may deny the occurrence of the arrest and the existence of the expunction order. However, if you are ever questioned under oath in a criminal proceeding about an arrest for which the records have been expunged, you are only required to say that the matter in question has been expunged.
If you think your criminal history is suitable for an expunction contact Michael A. Smith. Mr. Smith will evaluate your case and advise you as to your ability to seek and obtain an expunction.