How the Internet Keeps Your Record Alive Even When it Has Been Expunged
North Carolina recently made it much easier to get your criminal record expunged. The newly-amended law significantly reduces the waiting period for petitioning for an expungement and also increases the number of dismissals that can be cleared. Individuals who have been arrested, tried, and/or convicted of a crime in North Carolina will now have the opportunity to enjoy a clean slate. When a record is expunged, all evidence of a criminal event is erased from public records. This means that anyone who runs a cursory background check will not see any indication of an arrest or criminal proceeding.
Expungement Laws Don't Affect Private Internet Websites
Expungements do not necessarily mean that all evidence of your criminal past is completely erased. There are thousands of websites on the internet that post information relevant to criminal proceedings. This information can often include arrest notices, mugshots, and other information relevant to an arrest or criminal proceeding. These privately run websites are not required to take down any information about your criminal past when your record is expunged.
How the Internet Can Affect You After Expungement
Since North Carolina law does not require private internet companies or websites to erase information about your criminal past, it is possible that details of your criminal past may arise after expungement. This can be particularly problematic if you are applying for a new job or trying to rent a new apartment. Landlords and employers routinely run background checks on applicants to determine if they are the right candidate for the job or fit for the neighborhood.
While background checks that stick to government and public directories do not expose your criminal past, a cursory search engines like Google may. When your employer simply enters your name in the search field, it is possible for details of your past to pop up. Other times, employers may rely on information gathered over time by a third-party investigator. This information can include archived court records and databases that were once public record.
If this happens, the employer or landlord will undoubtedly ask you a few questions about the information they find. If they believe that you were trying to be dishonest or hide important information from them, these internet search results may negatively affect your future.
What Should I Do If Expunged Information Is on the Internet?
When you get your record expunged, you should take steps to determine if any details of your criminal record are on the internet. Run a simple Google search with your name to find out if anything pops up. It can be helpful to include “your name + crime” or “your name + arrest” to make sure that you find any information that may be out there.
Once you find that your mugshot or details of an arrest are on a website, you have the right to ask the company to take the information down. In fact, companies can face some serious legal consequences if they refuse to take down information about your criminal past after such a request has been made. Refusal to take down information about a criminal record can result in civil liability under N.C.G.S. § 15A-152.
Some companies may charge a fee to remove the entry or require proof that your record has been expunged. The type of proof that is required will depend on the type of information that has been expunged from your record.
Call a North Carolina Criminal Defense Attorney For Help
Once your record has been expunged, it is important to make sure that your future is not derailed by information on a private for-profit internet website. Contact the experienced North Carolina criminal defense attorneys at Caulder & Valentine for assistance clearing any record of your criminal past from the internet. Companies will be more inclined to obey the law if the demand comes from an attorney. Call Caulder & Valentine today at 704-470-2440 to request a free consultation.