So many times people don’t realize that once an arrest is made, unless you seal or expunge it, that arrest will ALWAYS show up on a background check EVEN if the case was ultimately dropped, dismissed, No Info’d (No Information Notice meaning not suitable to prosecute/state didn’t file formal charges) or Nolle Prossed (Nolle Prosequi means to not prosecute).
Lots of times people ask me this question and I am surprised that their attorneys (if they had one) didn’t mention that it wouldn’t automatically go away. Any employer who runs a background check, or landlord/apartment complex or educational institutions will come across the record of the arrest (and don’t get me started on the Mugshot website folks! – I will blog about that soon too…). The good news is most people will realize despite the arrest being on their, that the charge was in fact DISMISSED. However, if you were choosing between two potential hires and one had a prior theft charge and the other had no prior arrest history, who would you hire? It can’t help but make you wonder or question their character or why they were even in a situation that could lead them to get arrested. Believe it or not, people DO get arrested for crimes they didn’t commit, for things they truly aren’t or weren’t guilty of, and their cases were either dismissed or they fought it to trial and the jury found them not guilty. You would think this goes off automatically, but it doesn’t.
Many have heard about getting their records EXPUNGED or getting them sealed. This is a legal process that will permanently remove your arrest from official records and should then no longer come up on background checks. However, what most people don’t realize is that you are only allowed one of these your entire life! God forbid you get wrongfully accused of something twice! Or worse yet, you are only entitled to it so long as you have never had ANY convictions for anything.
Let me give you an example. Had a client who had a minor traffic criminal offense which he only had to pay a fine to resolve, but he was ADJUDICATED, meaning convicted of that. Normally, that may not be a big deal to some because they think, well, it was just a misdemeanor. BUT, the problem is, when later he was charged with a serious theft charge that was a complete mistake and since he didn’t know all of his rights, he accepted responsibility and pled to a probation sentence with adjudication withheld (no conviction) thinking that if he did everything right he could expunge it later. Well, turned out he couldn’t because of the driving charge. Thankfully, our firm was able to re-open his old driving case and have it modified to undo the conviction and we ultimately helped him get his record sealed.
If you have questions on whether or not you’re eligible to have your record sealed or expunged, about what the difference between those are, or whether or not a plea you accept currently will affect your ability to get your record expunged/sealed, you need to consult with an attorney to go over your particular situation so that you set yourself up for the best possible chance to close that chapter of your life and move on to bigger and better things without being haunted by your past.
Feel free to contact us for a free consultation regarding this or any other questions you may have related to a prior arrest or pending charge.