What should I do when charges are showing up on my criminal record after expungement?
Ok, it happens! You had some legal problems in the past, did what you were supposed to, and thought you had that pesky charge expunged from your record. You go to apply for a job, and after the background check is performed, you hear that you are not qualified due to your criminal record-or better yet, they don’t even tell you why! Why is your record reflecting criminal charges that you had expunged, and how are these people finding out?
When you go to apply for a job, almost all place do a background check. Background checks can be done through the government or by private companies. Most problems as described above arise when employers use private companies to perform background checks.
Where is the old information coming from?
Companies like Hireright and Intellicorp access indexes of public records that are scoured from the courthouses across the country. Let’s say someone gets arrested for Grand Larceny in January 2012. The records relating to the arrest, indictment, etc are indexed and get put in their computer system in May of 2013. In June, your charge is dismissed and expunged from the public record. However, Hireright and Intellicorp still have that information in their system and they really don’t care whether the charge was dismissed, expunged or otherwise.
In 2015, you apply for a job, and they start asking you about your Grand Larceny charge from 2012 because it shows up on a “background check.”
What can you do about it?
According to the FTC, employers and reporters have obligations under federal law. Anyone who runs a background check is supposed to provide that information to you upon request. Once you find out what company has reported the bad information, start by writing a letter to the company. In your letter state that your record has been expunged, and that the company is reporting records that are incorrect and are causing you problems. Give them 30 days or so to make the correction. Also, according to Intellicorp, there are several ways to apply for removal after an expungement. Some of these applications will overlap with several reporting companies.
Make sure the employer knows that the information is not correct. Ask them to do a search on the public index in the county where the arrest occurred. Also, you may provide them with a copy of the expungement paperwork showing that there was an order issued to destroy those records and public information of the arrest and/or conviction.
The Good News (Maybe?)
As of 2015, the South Carolina General Assembly is currently considering a bill that would require criminal records and mugshots put up on websites to be taken down for free if the person is found not guilty, or the charge is dismissed. The record or mugshot would have to be taken down within 30 days after a written request, such as a letter. The bill would also provide penalties if the law is not followed. It is important to note that the Bill has not passed yet, and is not without opposition, but would be very helpful in fixing this problem if it does. Call your local legislator to get support for the South Carolina S. 255 bill.