I was told that my DUI charges were expunged after I completed ARD, but the DUI charges appeared on a criminal background search. How could this happen and what can be done?
Charges on a Criminal Background Search
The prosecuting attorney, the Pennsylvania State Police central repository, and the court are permitted to retain the names and criminal history record information of people charged with DUI and other criminal offenses that completed a pretrial or post-trial diversion or probation program and the court has ordered expungement of the records. The information is only to be used for purposes of determining eligibility for programs such as ARD in the future, identifying persons in criminal investigations, or for determining the grading of subsequent offenses. The information is available to any court or law enforcement agency upon request. Pennsylvania expressly provides that this information is available to a limited class of law enforcement agencies; therefore, this information is not generally accessible by the public.
The court’s power to order expungement is also limited to the expungement of government records. The court cannot order private people or companies to expunge their records. For example, if the DUI or criminal case were referenced in a newspaper article, or notations to the case were made on a private person’s Facebook page, said references would not be covered by the judge’s expungement order. Recently, private Internet companies have paid the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC), a public government database in Pennsylvania, to upload court docket sheets from across the state of Pennsylvania. The docket sheets reference the procedural status of a case at the time of the upload of information. The AOPC docket sheets reference every criminal and traffic case filed in Pennsylvania, so your case would be included. The Internet companies often sell their database information to companies that are performing background searches on job applicants or prospective tenants of housing. It is possible that the company may have obtained a record of your charges before they were expunged. While these companies cannot be required by the court to expunge their databases, they sometimes are willing to expunge their records as a courtesy if they are provided with a copy of the judge’s signed 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.