My criminal charges were expunged, why did they appear on a background search?

Expungement Limited to Government Records

In many situations, the problem is that the person completed ARD and assumed that completion resulted in the automatic expungement of the case.  Regrettably, that is not how the process works in Pennsylvnaia.  Successful completion of ARD gives a person the ability to expunge, but the expungement process requires that an expungement petition be filed with the Clerk of Courts in the county in which the case was handled.  The good news is that this problem can be fixed by filing the required paperwork. Expungement petitions do not need to be filed immediately upon ARD completion and can be filed years later. 

A second issue could that the records that are being found or viewed on not on a governemnt database or record.  Private people and entitites are not required to expunge.  Expungement petitions require the destruction of government records, but not private records.  If a bitter ex has a copy of the paperwork and posts it on Facebook, nothing can be one.  If a newspaper wrote an article about the case, the newspaper cannot be forced to remove the article.  A person can contact a website or online newspaper and ask that an article be removed, but the answer is often “no.”  It is more likely that they may agree to update the article to note that the charge or case was expunged, but they often will not agree to completely remove the information.

More troubling is a recent trend in which private companies pay for access to the government records, and the private companies uploads or stores case information and criminal histories.  Private employers and landlords may hire a background search company that pays to search the private database instead of the government records.  This means that the employer may receive information from the private database company that is not available on the government records because the records were expunged.  While the private databases are not required to expunge their records, they often will if they are provided with a copy of the expungement order.  The problem that arises is trying to identify the companies that have a record of the charges. The number of Internet companies seems to be increasing and ever changing.

Free Initial Consultation

If you have questions about an expungement, contact the experienced expungement lawyers at the State College criminal defense firm of JD Law for a free initial consultation at (814) 689-9139 or email us.