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Expungement information - PeopleSmart


While not an absolute preventative against discovery, an expunged record is effectively removed from an individual’s legal record.

What does expungement mean?

Expungement means sealing a court record from public review—relevant court documents will not show your expunged case. Though expunged records are generally inaccessible, there are exceptional court orders that can access expunged records and laws relating to expungement vary by state. In certain jurisdictions, like the military, even the record of expunged crimes must be revealed.

What is the difference between an expunged record and a sealed record?

Expunged and sealed are technical terms regarding a record’s accessibility. Though both expunged records and sealed records are not available to the general public through normal background checks, sealed records still exist. On the other hand, an expunged record is essentially a clean slate, though in some cases, institutions will see that an expungement has occurred (without any details of the nature of the expungement).

What is the difference between an expunged record and a pardon?

On the most basic level, expunged records disappear while pardons still show up on your criminal history. Pardons are essentially acts of forgiveness for a crime, a gesture from state governments, governors, attorneys general, or the President that also usually involves a cancellation of the punishment for the crime. State officials with the authority to grant pardons can only pardon crimes at the state level, while the President can only pardon crimes at the federal level. Other terms related to pardon: clemency, commutation, remission, and reprieve.

How do I request an expungement on my background check report?

While eligibility for record expungement varies by state and crime, common cases for record expungement include juvenile cases, first-offense cases, and drug or alcohol cases in which a treatment program has been completed. In order to expunge a criminal record, individuals typically must apply with their state government and file necessary documents. A criminal attorney can help expedite the record expungement process. Another option is to work with an attorney to obtain a Certificate of Actual Innocence.

For tenants, eviction records can be expunged if tenants win the eviction case, if eviction cases are settled and agreed upon by both parties, or if the tenant does not receive court papers from the landlord.