What if I Google myself after my record is expunged & find information about the crime I committed?

Answer: If a private website -- such as a newspaper or online database -- has published information about your criminal history, others may be able to find it even after your record is officially expunged or sealed. For this reason, it is important to conduct an online search for your name after your record is expunged, and to correct the information if possible.

You may contact the private website to request that it remove the out-of-date information about your criminal history. Be prepared to provide a copy of the court order showing that your record has been officially expunged or sealed. Also be forewarned that this procedure may take some time, and may not always lead to the results you want. For example, if an online news service posted a story about your arrest at the time it happened, it is under no legal obligation to remove that story later, even if no charges were brought against you or you were acquitted in court. Whether or not a news service will unpublish such an article depends on its policies and, sometimes, the moods of the individuals involved on the day that you ask. If you can document your expungement and you are persistent but polite, you may succeed in having old news stories removed.

Also, some government agencies may simply fall behind when it comes to removing criminal records from their databases. If your record continues to show up in a government database that should have removed it, contact the agency to learn when you can expect it to be removed. To expedite the process, you may need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Keep in mind that, after your record is expunged or sealed, you don’t have to disclose it when you apply for a job or housing, except in very limited circumstances described by state law. In other words, if a potential employer asks you whether you have a record, you can usually say “No,” as long as your record was officially erased or sealed. If the employer or landlord has stumbled across the stray information about your arrest or conviction, be prepared to prove that it was expunged and briefly explain the situation. Familiarize yourself with state laws that govern how others can use information about your criminal history -- including what employers are allowed to ask you about -- and assert your legal rights if necessary.

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