The record expungement process exists to help individuals overcome their past mistakes. A criminal record can interfere with employment opportunities, present a roadblock when an individual needs financial aid or financing, and even limit housing options. Employers typically perform background checks on all employment applicants, and it is vital for everyone to know how expunged records work.
Generally, expunged records do not appear on employer background checks. An expungement effectively removes a criminal arrest, charge, and/or conviction record and seals or destroys the public record. Essentially, an expunged record technically no longer exists.
Employer Background Checks
Virtually every American employer performs background checks on potential employees. Whenever a person applies for a job, he or she should expect the employer to conduct a background check to see if the applicant has a criminal record. Even a record of a nonviolent or relatively minor offense could pose serious problems for a person seeking employment. For example, it is highly unlikely that any retail establishment would hire anyone with a record of theft, regardless of the value of the items stolen.
An expunged record may be removed from the public record, but that does not necessarily mean the record will instantly disappear from all sources. Many third-party organizations collate public arrest and conviction records and provide background check information to employers. Some conviction records appear in multiple databases, and an expungement from one may not expunge the record from all of them.
Handling a Misreported Background Check
If a background check agency reports a record on a job applicant to an employer, the employer will likely submit a pre-adverse action letter to the applicant explaining the criminal record is the reason for the denial of employment. The applicant can and should contest this decision if the record has been officially expunged, however, and he or she may do so by producing a record of the expungement and submitting the necessary expungement paperwork to the background check agency. Once submitted, the agency will have 30 days to redo the background check, taking the expungement into consideration and producing a new report.
In the event the courthouse processing the expungement still has not finished by the time the agency performs the second check, the agency will need to report the recorded offense in the second background report. The candidate should visit the courthouse to obtain a record of expungement to provide to the background check agency. This process usually resolves any lingering records of an expunged conviction, but it can take time.
Benefits of Expungement
A criminal record can interfere with various aspects of a person’s life for years, and the expungement process can take quite a long time to complete. Most states require a waiting period before a criminal record qualifies for expungement, and the expungement process itself can take several months to a year or even longer. Additionally, any missteps during the expungement application process can lengthen this already time-consuming process. However, it is almost always worth the hassle to secure an expungement. Doing so could potentially open new employment opportunities and relieve financial stress by making securing credit or financing easier.
The expungement process is relatively inexpensive, usually only costing a few hundred dollars at most. The severity of the offense to be expunged usually informs the cost of the expungement in terms of court fees, but the true cost of securing an expungement usually lies in attorneys’ fees.
Hiring an attorney may be expensive, but the expungement process is incredibly complex and even small hiccups can cause serious delays. An experienced attorney can help a client navigate the expungement process with minimal interruption.
Contact our office today if you have any questions regarding the expungement process and what our legal team can do for you.