Expungement is a process sometimes used by those who have a criminal record. They want to clear the record, and so they seek to have it expunged. This is also sometimes referred to as sealing the record.
Often, people assume that this means that the record has been erased. It no longer exists. But it’s important to note that that’s not exactly how it works.
The record is simply sealed and altered, but it does still exist. Here’s what you should know:
Then why seek an expungement?
What the expungement does is that it limits who can actually see that record. To a prospective employer, for instance, the charges that you had expunged are not going to show up on a background check. You are fully allowed to tell them that you don’t have a criminal record if they ask.
But the goal of doing this is generally just to give people more options in life after a criminal conviction. An expungement can help them get a job, and it may help with finding a place to live, applying for benefits or even applying to certain schools – just to name a few examples.
But the authorities, such as the police department or the FBI, can certainly still see your record. It does exist. It is marked for them, so they can see that it was sealed, but it is not entirely erased. That record is likely still going to stay on these government files, but the vast majority of people that you actually interact with on a daily basis would have limited ability to look at your history.
If sealing a record is something that you’re interested in doing, it can be a complex process. You may want to make sure you know exactly what steps to take.