When it comes to expunged records, there are not many individuals who will be able to view this information. So if you’ve recently had certain records expunged or are looking into requesting an expungement, you may wonder if police or other law enforcement professionals can view these records.
Our article gives you more information on who can see expunged records and the situations where these records may still be eligible for access.
What Is Expungement?
Expungement is the process of going before a judge or court system and asking for certain records related to a criminal or civil case to be sealed. States have varying procedures for processing and granting expungements. So it’s important to consult with a legal professional and your state’s specific regulations to understand more about the expungement process.
Generally, expungement involves filing a motion with the court and appearing in front of a judge to explain your situation and your reasoning for requesting an expungement. The judge will then make their decision, and the court will either expunge your records or deny your request.
Your Rights if Your Records Are Expunged
If you are granted an expungement, you will have certain privileges, including being able to answer “no” when asked on applications if you have a criminal record.
However, it’s important to note that state rules differ after your records are expunged depending on the type of crime or record. Therefore, you should check with state-specific laws regarding expunged records to understand more detailed information about your rights.
Expungement Versus Sealed Records
Some states do make a differentiation between expunged versus sealed records. In general, expunged records are considered completely removed and inaccessible. In contrast, sealed records can potentially be “re-opened” or viewed by law enforcement and legal professionals in certain situations. However, depending on your state, this is also possible with expunged records under certain circumstances.
So make sure you understand if your state differentiates between expunged and sealed records and the state-defined differences between these options before proceeding.
Do Police Agencies Have Access to Expunged Records?
In general, police will not have access to expunged records. So if you are pulled over or the police look up your records based on your name, your expunged records will not be shown.
That being said, there are a few situations in which law enforcement professionals might have access to your expunged records.
- Criminal Investigations – this is typically when law enforcement is investigating an individual for an ongoing criminal case, or someone applies for something like a handgun permit.
- Criminal Charges – occasionally, prosecutors will be able to access expunged records to make appropriate criminal charges against an individual.
- Sentencing –judges and prosecutors might access expunged records to ensure sentencing is accurate and fair, especially in cases of repeat offenders.
- Impeach Witnesses – sometimes, expunged or sealed records are accessed in court cases where one party tries to introduce evidence that contradicts previous cases.
- Repeated Expungement Requests – some states only allow one request for expunging records, so if you make an appeal or multiple appeals for expungement, the court or a judge might access other records you have had expunged to verify request attempts.
If you have concerns about when law enforcement might be able to access any of your expunged records, or you want to know more about your state’s specific laws surrounding expunged records, don’t hesitate to contact a legal professional.
Who Can See My Expunged Records?
There are a limited number of situations in which your expunged records are eligible to be viewed. In most states, expunged or sealed records are able to be accessed in the following circumstances.
Federal Government Employers
Both state and federal government employers may request to access expunged records, as federal and state government jobs are often considered high security. The chances of a state or federal employer accessing your expunged records increases if you are applying for a job that deals with national security or requires a security clearance.
So if you are applying for one of these jobs, be prepared to undergo intensive background checks requesting information about all expunged or sealed records.
Jobs Dealing With Vulnerable Populations
Jobs dealing with vulnerable populations include positions in healthcare facilities, childcare centers, schools, and security. These jobs typically require all potential employees to have a clear record of criminal convictions, especially those related to sexual or violent offenses. In order to verify that someone is safe to work around vulnerable populations, employers may request intensive background checks and access expunged or sealed records.
Are My Expunged Records Available Online?
After expunging your records, they will no longer be accessible in public or county records or government databases. This means that they are removed from public searches. However, evidence of previous criminal and civil offenses may still be found online, meaning you might need to submit removal requests to internet search engines.
You can use an online records search tool like Information.com to check which of your information is still publicly available online after the expungement of your records has been granted. These tools thoroughly search all public records available online and let you know where your problem areas are when it comes to information about civil or criminal proceedings being available online.
So if you have any other concerns about your publicly available information after expungement or want to get started seeking an expungement for your records, your best option is to contact a legal professional in your state for further assistance.