Perhaps you got a driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence charge years ago and still suffer its effects today, such as when you apply for an apartment or a degree program. You know about expungement, but do you know what it can and cannot do?
The American Bar Association explains the limits of expunging a criminal charge. Before investing time, money and energy into clearing your record, learn what to expect if you receive an expungement order.
Criminal records remain in some places
Expungement orders only apply to specific courts and legal matters, but nothing else. If a search engine, social media site or the press has details about the charge you want to clear, the expungement order does not eliminate it. Sometimes, supplementary details about your legal matter exist outside the court’s realm of influence, but that depends on the specific criminal record or charge. Unless the court takes extra measures, it cannot get rid of social media posts, news stories, arrest reports from law enforcement departments outside the court’s domain or interviews.
You cannot privatize criminal activity
Something else to understand about expungement is it does not change criminal activity into a private matter. What expungement orders do is wipe a specific conviction or arrest from your criminal record. They do not clear the expungement subject from the public eye. Because cleared convictions or arrests always remain a part of the public record, they do not qualify for privacy protection.
While great for qualifying for housing or education opportunities, expungement orders are not magic spells. Once you fully comprehend how the process works, you know how to plan your post-expungement life accordingly.