Employment Background Checks
Interviewer: A lot of employers do background checks. Do you think that the expungement would significantly improve someone’s chance to become employed by someplace where they previously were probably discriminated against?
Brett Hollett: Absolutely. Unfortunately in Alabama, up until now, even if you were vindicated at court or even if the state decided not to proceed with your case that record of the arrest would still be out there. When an employer does a background check, they will see that you’ve been arrested and they will be able to see what you’ve been arrested for. An arrest record is going to raise a red flag for them right away. You might not even get the chance to explain to the employer what really happened with the case or why the case was eventually dismissed. They may just pass over you because they see you’ve been arrested for DUI or drug possession or whatever it may be. If your record is expunged, you will no longer be required to disclose the fact of the record on any job, credit, or other type of application.
Interviewer: On my record, if I got something expunged, will that show up on the record? Will it say that something was expunged?
Brett Hollett: No. The bill specifically states that upon expungement being granted, the proceedings regarding the charge shall be deemed to have never occurred. It will be wiped clean. There are only a few minor exceptions and those exceptions are for government regulatory agencies, licensing agencies, and other few just minor exceptions that would apply. For the most part, if you were granted an expungement, your arrest record would be destroyed and you could honestly answer “no” to any question on an application inquiring whether or not you have ever been charged with a crime.
Interviewer: Is there any sort of certification or paperwork that I would receive after getting my expungement?
Brett Hollett: You would receive an order from the circuit judge granting the expungement. After the order was signed, the different law enforcement agencies would have 180 days from that date of that order to certify to the court that all of your records have been in fact expunged and removed from any state and/or national database.
Interviewer: If I got an expungement and my employer still found charges on my criminal record, what should I do?
Brett Hollett: Right now, if your record was expunged, all the agencies have to certify within 180 days of the entry of the expungement order that the required expungement actions have been completed. They would have to certify to the court that, again, all records in the custody of the court or the custody of any of these agencies have been in fact expunged. After that 180-day period has lapsed, your records should cease to exist.
Interviewer: If I’m applying for a job, will I have to say that I was convicted of a crime and I’ve already got it expunged?
Brett Hollett: Again, our expungement bill doesn’t allow for people that have been convicted of any crime to have their record expunged. The bill only allows for the record of the arrest to be destroyed.
Interviewer: I would have to admit to being convicted?
Brett Hollett: Convicted, yes. There is no mechanism right now under our current expungement law to have any convicted crimes expunged. The only things that can be expunged under the current law would be certain kinds of arrest records.
Interviewer: If someone wants to find out about their criminal record and they’ve had some charges in the past that they may not have been sure of and they had an attorney get with it quickly, what is the best way for them to find out what their criminal record is before they decide to go and set an expungement?
Brett Hollett: An attorney can look up those for them. They’d be able to help with that.
Interviewer: What about a situation where someone lost their credentials or some sort of licensing due to a particular crime that they committed? They get it expunged. Do you think that person may have a chance of regaining that?
Brett Hollett: I think we’re getting confused a little bit, but, again, if they were refused a license because of their arrest, then yes, I think they’d have a good chance of becoming relicensed. If they were convicted of any crime, we’re not going to be able to get that case expunged. If the record of the arrest stopped them from being able to get licensed or the record of the arrest stopped them from being able to get a job, then yes, I think they’d most definitely will be able to go back to that employer and say, “Hey, look: I don’t have a record,” and they’d be right.
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