arrest records

Arrest record but no charges

Typically, an arrest record will show the date, arresting agency, and the subject’s name (and other identifiers such as DOB and address), without specifying the charge or charges. The reason for this is twofold: (1) until the district attorney (“DA”) files a criminal case, there are no charges; and (2) the charges filed by the DA may be different than the charges on which the arresting officer based the arrest. An “arrest” and “being charged with a crime” are different things (although obviously related).  An “arrest” means that a person is taken into custody because they have been accused either by a warrant or by probable cause of committing a crime. Once in custody, the prosecutor’s office will decide whether the person will be charged with a crime. The person will then be given a charging document (complaint or information) that will state what charges they are facing.

A record will never show that an arrest was “dropped.” At best, you can infer that no charges were filed after an arrest if there is no corresponding court case.

December 15th, 2021|Judgment|

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

The words “expunged” and “sealed” often are used interchangeably. A ”sealed” record means that the record is hidden from the general public. An “expunged” record means that the record has been destroyed. In most states, arrests and convictions for serious, violent felonies usually cannot be expunged or sealed.

Each state has its own rules and laws for expungement, and some states label expungement as “expunction,” “removal,” or “destruction” (of criminal records.) But the record may not completely disappear and may be available to law enforcement and the federal government. In most states, for adults, arrest and conviction records are not automatically expunged or sealed after a period of years. For juveniles, court and arrest records are sealed automatically once the juvenile is arrested and a trial or “adjudication” begins.

The rules and laws for the sealing of criminal records also vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In most instances, a court order to unseal a record is required. Some states order the records to be destroyed after they have been sealed. Further, once a record is sealed, in certain states, the contents/crime are legally considered never to have occurred and are not acknowledged by the state.

In most states, but with some exceptions, after a record is sealed or expunged, the subject may truthfully state that he/she has never been arrested, charged, or accused of a crime. However, as noted above, the federal government does not have to honor an expungement and an expungement of a conviction does not relieve a person from having to disclose it on an application for public office or on certain professional license applications.

July 21st, 2010|Educational Series|
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