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Who Can See My Criminal Record?

Tagged under: Research USA Court System Expeal
By Omid Ghaffari-Tabrizi on November 29, 2015.

Omid Ghaffari-Tabrizi found this image of a magnifying glass over a person.

Certain elements of a person’s criminal record are considered public records and can be looked up for free. One of the great advantages of Expealing your record, whether it is through sealing, expunging, setting aside, or otherwise, is that it either reduces or completely removes the mention of this record from a person’s records. Regardless of what is required, unless you have Expealed your record, someone can obtain it.

It is not only convictions that show up. Some states actually make all interactions with law enforcement public record. The same way you look up a conviction would be the same way you look up an arrest. That is, of course, unless the person has gone through the process to Expeal their record.

A state’s legislature is in charge of developing the rules and regulations that dictate what is required to remove the information related to a record from public access. Generally, the requirements are that a person has never or rarely been in trouble before, the issue was something relatively minor, the sentence handed down has been successfully completed or if no sentence was handed down, the case has been closed, and that a certain amount of time without any further law enforcement issues has passed from the completion of the case (the date the final order is handed down or the date the sentence is completed, depending on your circumstances).

As soon as your record is Expealed, unless certain special circumstances exist, a person is legally permitted to answer “No” to a question about whether or not they have been convicted. Even though the FBI and many states’ criminal bureaus keep a database of convicted people, access to those databases is limited to certain government personnel, like prosecutors, police, and employers of certain types like health professionals and educators.

Criminal Record Availability

Perhaps one of the most important maps of all - where your record is available online. We will try to keep this constantly updated, so please don't hesitate to contact us if you see something off. As the maps shows, the red counties and states are where anyone can simply go online, put in your name, and find your entire criminal record.

Omid Ghaffari-Tabrizi created this map showing criminal record availability online.

As you can see, some states have all records online while others require a trip to the courthouse. Nowadays, there are also other services that provide national checks, requesting information from each and every single county across the country. Sophisticated new methods of not only gathering data but also organizing it makes things easier than ever before – and makes Expeal that much more important.

Some of these new methods even go so far as to utilize nefarious means, like publishing mug shots online. The only way to remove these records are to either pay hundreds of dollars to the company that put your picture online or send them an order showing that your record has been Expealed through sealing or expunging.

These methods are unfortunately available to everyone – whether a public entity or a private corporation. They tend to use all sorts of methods, including gathering information online, sending written requests, and even having people go to courthouses to gather the information by hand. The biggest issue with these methods is that they may not remove information that should remain confidential, like social security numbers or birth dates. The only way to be safe is to make sure you qualify to Expeal your record and you complete the process.

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