Criminal Record Folder Used in a Background Check Cardoza Law CorporationNo one was more shocked than you to find out that an old arrest that should not have been on your record prevented you from getting the job of your dreams. The reality these days is that expunging or sealing a criminal record does not guarantee that no one will ever see it again. That may sound illogical—what’s the point of sealing a record if it can be seen? Unfortunately, once a record is out there in cyberspace, it’s very difficult to get rid of it.

So What Does Expunging Actually Mean?

A court may agree to expunge a criminal record for a few reasons. Most commonly, records are expunged because the arrest was a mistake or the charges were dismissed. An expunged arrest is removed completely from the public record. Sealing court records generally only applies to crimes committed by juveniles. The arrest and conviction will remain on the person’s record but can only be seen by court order. Sealed records should not turn up in a criminal background check.

How Are Expunged Records Still Available to the Public?

When a court orders that a false arrest or dismissed criminal charge be removed from the public record, it will be wiped from the court’s records but may have already been released to the public. Third-party background check companies jump on this information as soon as it’s released. Once it’s out there, it’s very hard to get back. Arrest records shared online by local police departments may be indexed by Google and available in a search long after the police website has taken them down. Online mugshot galleries also show up in Google searches, and nothing compels them to take down the photos of cleared individuals.

So, What Can You Do About it?

Short of contacting every background check company and mugshot gallery on the internet, there is not much you can do to remove all mentions of your expunged arrest. You do have some protections in California regarding the use of these records, however. California employers are barred from seeking information about an arrest or charge that did not lead to a conviction. If they come across this information, they cannot use it to deny you a job, promotion, or raise. If an employer turns your application down based on something he found in your background check, he is required by law to issue a notice of adverse action. This notice should reveal what specific information in your background check or credit report led to their decision. You should also get a copy of the record with the negative information. If the negative information is false—or is a sealed or expunged criminal record—you have a right to get it removed.

How the Cardoza Law Corporation Will Help

Holding an employer accountable for violating California Labor Code and disputing false or sealed information with credit reporting agencies or background check companies is a daunting task and one you do not have to attempt on your own. When you contact the Cardoza Law Corporation, we will take care of the problem for you. We will draft all of your dispute letters, and if you are owed damages under civil law, we will file the lawsuit and fight for what you deserve. The best part is, our services are completely FREE. If we are successful in winning damages for you, our fee will come out of your compensation. You truly have nothing to lose by filling out our contact form or calling us directly at 855.982.2400 and telling us what’s going on. If we can help—we will!


Michael F. Cardoza, Esq.
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U.S. Marine & Consumer Financial Protection Attorney helping victims of ID theft and Credit Reporting errors.