If you’re a job seeker and, once-upon-a-time, you made a mistake and were convicted of a crime – other than a violent crime or some type of sex offense – and you want to get the conviction off your record can you have your court record expunged? Here’s what Black’s famous Law Dictionary says an expungement means, it is a “Process by which a record of criminal conviction is destroyed or sealed from the state or Federal repository.” More and more states are allowing convictions to be expunged, but that doesn’t mean they’re taken off every criminal history data base.
So, as a first time offender, would it be safe to assume that a previous conviction won’t show up if a prospective employer does a criminal history check on you? Not necessarily.
While the conviction may have been expunged, or sealed, by the court in which the case was decided, a check of a national criminal data base may very well show the conviction! Why is that? Because there is usually very little effort made to report changes in court records by lower courts to national criminal history data bases. So, a thorough criminal history data base check may very well show a conviction that has been expunged, or sealed, by the court of original jurisdiction.
Therefore, the answer to the question of whether you’re safe or not if you have a conviction expunged, regrettably, is “no,” which may put job seekers in the position of having to be prepared to explain away a conviction they thought was sealed.
The moral of the story is that, even if a record is not found, it doesn’t mean there isn’t one hiding out there!