If you want to clear your record from background checks, it is absolutely critical that you have two things: (1) one of several specific legal documents and (2) a powerful technology that connects you to the complex web of criminal record databases.
Our team already built that technology when we created RecordFixer. So, the rest of this article explains why the law allows you to flex your privacy with various legal methods.
Years ago, it was incredibly difficult to pinpoint the intricate networks that share criminal data. Now, you can remove your arrests, charges, and conviction history from online databases and similar background check services with just a little bit of know-how.
The Internet is NOT your friend…if you want Privacy
In today’s digital age, background checks have become an integral part of personal and professional life. Whether you’re applying for a job, renting a house, or even starting a new relationship, it’s likely that someone will run a background check on you.
But what if you have a criminal record? Is there anything you can do that will actually work?
In this article, we explain and simplify a very complicated area of privacy and criminal records laws: (1) the lesser-known negative effects of a criminal record, (2) the way it affects job prospects, (3) state and federal privacy laws for criminal records, (4) the complex role of background check companies, (5) the myth of court records, and (6) the amazing technology behind RecordFixer and how its used to clear the kinds of records affecting millions of Americans.
Get ready to dive in and find out how you can navigate the challenges that come with having criminal record and paving a way for a brighter future.
The Real Impact of Criminal Records on Your Life
Having a criminal record can have significant impacts on your life, both personally and professionally.
It is not just a matter of public record–because it affects the way you are perceived by others and ultimately the opportunities available to you. A criminal record can result in years of social stigma, creating roadblocks in finding housing, securing loans, and even accessing educational opportunities. Moreover, it can influence court decisions, affecting child custody and visitation rights.
Despite these challenges, there are legal solutions available that can help individuals move forward without the shadow of past mistakes. But it’s very important to understand just how deeply you are affected by a crime history beyond the usual consequences.
The (hidden) Negative Effects of a Criminal Record
A criminal record can be a lifelong burden, constantly subjecting individuals to scrutiny and judgment, even years after their offense. When your personal criminal data is available to the public eye, it perpetuates a cycle of very personal and very professional challenges.
Have you ever been sued or wanted to sue someone? What about cases in family court?
Criminal records can have severe consequences on court decisions, especially in cases involving child custody and visitation rights. Judges are allowed to take into account a person’s criminal record when determining the best interests of a child, which can limit access, impact custody arrangements, and strain family relationships.
Similarly, engaging in civil cases as a plaintiff or as a defendant expose you by giving the other side a “leg up” in using your record as leverage since the court may often allow this evidence to be used as a reflection of your character or can be used to impeach your testimony.
Surprising many, public access to criminal records can perpetuate judgment and make it difficult for individuals to rebuild their personal lives. Acquaintances and even romantic partners may form preconceived notions based solely on an individual’s criminal history, which can hinder personal relationships and start things off on an awkward note.
It’s important to note that certain criminal charges, such as aggravated assault and domestic violence, may carry more weight and have a greater negative impact on individuals’ lives. Regardless of the offense, it should be clear that having some kine of searchable history puts a painful perception on you and those who want to get closer to you.
The Big One: Criminal records affect job prospects
Most often on people’s mind is how a criminal record impacts job prospects and how this makes it incredibly challenging to secure employment opportunities.
During the hiring process, potential employers often conduct criminal background checks to assess an applicant’s suitability for a position. These checks can reveal both convictions and arrest records, casting a shadow of doubt on an applicant’s character and potentially leading to their disqualification from consideration.
First Impressions: When Something “Pops Up”
Let’s be honest, the mere presence of a criminal record heavily influences hiring decisions. Employers view candidates with criminal history in a negative light even if the charges are unrelated to the position or occurred in the distant past.
On the flip side, employers have a responsibility to ensure a safe and trustworthy work environment and background checks play a crucial role in that duty. Of course it’s vital to strike a balance between safeguarding the workplace and giving individuals a fair chance at employment.
To address this issue, federal and state legislation, such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), has been put in place to regulate the use of background checks in hiring decisions. These laws aim to prevent discrimination based on person’s prior history and provide guidelines for employers to follow during the hiring process.
Despite the challenges, it is possible for individuals with a past history to enhance their job prospects through legal means.
Your Rights: State and Federal Laws
Both state and federal laws play a significant role in governing the handling, access, and ultimate use of justice-affected individuals. State consumer privacy laws and fair employment legislation gives a legal framework that individuals can leverage to clear their records and build a brighter future.
State Privacy Laws: Petition Eligibility
State consumer privacy laws govern the sealing or expungement process and outline the eligibility requirements for clearing ones records.
IMPORTANT NOTE: These laws vary from state to state, with each state setting its own standards and criteria for record sealing or expungement. Each law determines who is eligible, what records are qualified, and waiting period before a petition can be filed.
Before someone can take their first step, they must first determine their eligibility. Eligibility tests consider factors such as the (a) nature of the offense, (b) the time that has passed since the conviction, and (c) whether the individual has satisfied all required legal obligations. Legal assistance, such as consulting with a criminal defense attorney or seeking guidance from an expungement service, is highly recommended to navigate the specific requirements of state consumer privacy laws.
Final Note: It is important to remember that state laws are subject to change (and have been changing at a rapid pace), so staying up-to-date with any modifications or amendments is crucial throughout the expungement or sealing journey.
Fair employment laws
Not really part of the “clearance journey”, but some states laws and federal legislation plays a significant role in protecting individuals with records from employment discrimination. Fair employment laws, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) guidelines, aim to prevent employers from using an individual’s history as the sole basis for denying them job opportunities. We include this because while it’s not a step in your process to clear your name, this wouldn’t be a comprehensive article if you at least didn’t know about this helpful tool.
These laws outline the responsibilities of employers, including: (i) conducting individualized assessments of job applicants by considering the nature of the offenses, (ii) the time that has passed since the offense, and (iii) its ultimate relevance to the position being sought.
This legislation also encourage employer transparency within the hiring process, ensuring that information regarding arrest or charging history is provided only when it’s relevant and necessary.
The Role of Background Check Companies
As background checks have already become standard practice for many organizations (allegedly 94% of all employers), private background check companies play an enormous role in providing access to public information, arrest and charging history, and other relevant records.
Officially, these companies compile and report information to authorized entities, aiding in hiring decisions, tenant screenings, and other legally allowed investigations.
Unofficially, many data broker services operate as semi-authorized screening agencies, and have a very hidden impact on public records as well as unauthorized dissemination of arrest history data. From our experience, it is these services that worry consumers the most.
Are Background Checks Legal?
Background check companies operate within established legal frameworks to comply within applicable laws. They access public records platforms, crime databases, and other proprietary systems to generate background reports on individuals for specific legal purpose. They must follow strict guidelines and ethical practices when providing reports to employers and authorized entities.
These companies rely on various sources to gather information, including court records, law enforcement databases, credit reports, and public access records. If everything is done correctly, they ensure accurate reporting and protect individuals’ rights.
Individuals with record histories should be aware of background check companies’ legal operations and the information they are authorized to provide to third parties. For anyone concerns about their past showing up online, background check agencies play a very important role.
How “Data Services” Influence Hiring
Potential employers rely on background check reports to assess an applicant’s suitability for a position. In particular, when considering factors such as past history and other public record information. Some businesses, however, have evolved into providing data as a service “DaaS” which aim to operate outside of regulated environments or on the edge of them.
The information provided by background check companies has a direct impact on an applicant’s eligibility for various job opportunities. But what about companies that disclaims all liability, accuracy, or even truth to the information they provide?
For the past ten to fifteen years, significant legal battles have been fought over erroneous record reporting to third parties that have defined and redefined the landscape of what kinds of histories are private or accessible.
Removing Criminal Data from Databases
Removing criminal data from databases is a complex process that first requires an understanding of the legal procedures involved (above). Most want to know exactly how to remove data before anything else. Which is why we needed to first cover what can be removed before we dig deeper into the mechanisms that allow you to do it.
Step 1: Expungement and Sealing
Expungement and record sealing are legal processes that allow you the power to limit public (and private) access to your criminal records. It’s what provides you the opportunity with the first step of database removal. As discussed above, eligibility criteria varies in each and every state and the general principles of expungement and record sealing are essential for individuals seeking to clear their criminal records. In other words, Do Not Skip This Step!
Key points about expungement and record sealing:
- Expungement is a legal process that allows those who are eligible to remove or “erase” their criminal records from public view.
- Record sealing involves restricting public access to criminal records, making them unavailable for both background checks and public inquiries.
- Eligibility for expungement or record sealing is typically determined by factors like the nature of the offense, time passed since conviction, and compliance with legal obligations, such as probation or sentence completion.
- The expungement process involves filing a petition with the court, which may require assistance from legal representation or guidance from a law firm specializing in expungement.
- Some states offer Clean Slate and automatic expungements. But these laws do NOT help with private database removal (More on this below).
- Expungement and record sealing does not guarantee complete erasure of official crime history, as certain entities, such as law enforcement agencies and criminal justice agencies, may retain access to sealed records.
- These legal processes offer best way for individuals to start itemizing their data for suppression, giving you stronger legal rights and freeing you from the burden of past mistakes.
The “7 Year Rule” for arrests
When it comes to background checks, many individuals wonder about the “7 Year Rule” and its impact on arrest records. The “7 Year Rule” refers to a common practice followed by background check companies which limits the reporting of non-conviction arrest records to the past seven years. It aims to strike a balance between protecting individuals’ rights and providing employers with relevant information.
Here are some key points about the “7 Year Rule”:
- The “7 Year Rule” dictates that background check companies typically report non-conviction arrest records for no more than seven years.
- The rule does not apply to convictions, as convictions can be reported indefinitely in most states.
- Expungement or record sealing can potentially remove criminal history from public access, including arrest records, regardless of the “7 Year Rule.”
- The “7 Year Rule” can vary by state, as states have different regulations regarding the reporting of criminal records.
- Some states, such as California, prohibit employers from considering arrest records that did not result in convictions, even if they fall within the seven-year period.
- While the “7 Year Rule” provides some relief for individuals with certain types of arrest records, expungement remains one of the most common ways consumers first engage with record clearance.
Before digging even deeper into crime history databases, we need to clarify the role of court records–which has historically been the primary “source” of data for those with justice history.
The Myth of Court Records
For the reader, we are about to enter cutting-edge territory. Because the general public’s understanding of what constitutes a “record” has been altered due the industry and technology having changed the landscape. Note: this is an evolving niche and will continue to be so.
Court records are often seen as the ultimate source on an individual’s criminal history. However, it’s important to understand that court records alone do not tell the complete story these days and will only provide a misleading picture for those who are seeking privacy. Which is why we must explain what court records really are and why they are not the definitive source of information about an individual’s criminal record history anymore.
What are Court Records?
Court records encompass all docket entries, case documents, exhibits, judgments, court orders, and legal filings associated with a particular criminal proceedings. They are public records. This means they are available for public access, including background check companies, employers, and almost any individual conducting personal investigations.
For years, these records have provided valuable information about charges, convictions, sentencing, and court orders, which are highly relevant data points in an individual’s criminal history.
Lately, court records alone are not the final word of an individual’s criminal history–and have even become more burdensome in navigating for crime data providers. Screening agencies and background check services have streamlined most of the investigative process and made record history data accessible through proprietary platforms–making courts almost obsolete in the data journey.
Nevertheless, these platforms can only offer a snapshot of legal proceedings; lacking important context such as expunctions/expungements or record sealing orders–which means these systems could be missing incredibly important information.
What all of this ultimately means is that court records may have been the primary source of one’s history, but that has changed with the industries’ reliance on highly efficient database systems. In the context of privacy, factors such as the jurisdiction, the court’s record-keeping practices, and the availability of digital or online information become even more significant.
Clean Slate & Your Criminal History
Surprisingly, things are about to get even more complicated.
First, court records were the definitive source. Then data platforms created their own pipelines to lift the burden of navigating so many different legal jurisdictions. This evolution did not create a two-way street in terms of data. Now, Clean Slate legislation is about to take away even more sources of important data points. Already, this is causing incompleteness of crucial information and legal events for an individual’s criminal history.
To be clear, this article is not a critique of groundbreaking laws that have taken away a large burden for millions who neither had the time or resources to petition courts or seek counsel. They have just created a new unintended hurdle to consumers as well as the public records industry.
Now, one thing appears to be certain: Highly important data is being removed or hidden from those in the business of distributing it to very established markets. Privacy, which depends on accuracy and completeness, becomes a new challenge.
Step 2: The Technology Behind RecordFixer
Advancements in technology have revolutionized many aspects of daily behaviors, including legal solutions for individuals seeking to make use of their personal data to navigate their daily lives.
We have chosen to develop legal technology tools to transform data privacy and have been delivering something nobody else has EVER done–privacy backed by real legal force.
Legal tech & Removing Criminal Data
The expungement and sealing process was not always accessible or efficient. But it is gaining steam and more are choosing to use these options when available. Using these important legal procedures and combining them with sophisticated data portals make privacy a reality.
Our privacy architecture was developed intentionally to operate within the criminal data ecosystem. This means our tool does not just connect to the largest and most prevalent primary source aggregators and distributors, it also organizes consumer data in a comprehensive and efficient manner.
Monitoring Criminal Data Networks through Internal Research & Development
However, RecordFixer would not be effective if we simply shot in the dark and hoped for the best. It takes years of industry know-how, consumer privacy laws, operating inside criminal courts, and spotting trends within the background check industry. On top of that, constant iteration is needed to detect unauthorized data disclosures, inaccurate reporting methods, and non-compliant industry violations by repeat offenders.
The result from all this diligent work creates eligible individuals to supercharge their road to privacy within one of the most complex and misunderstood industry networks–saving time and effort to thousands of law offices and millions of individuals.
Understanding state-specific clearance law has made our efforts worthwhile and the results have been amazing!
Can you clear everything from everywhere?
While expungement and record sealing offer paths to limit public access to crime history event data, complete eradication of information from all background check sources, government systems, and private databases is a more complex challenge that elude the most celebrated of experts in this subject matter.
Eradicating information from agency databases and private sources are entirely different endeavors, as each source may have different retention policies and legal requirements for record removal.
One example that comes to mind are state record repositories–typically governed by the Department of Justice. Sealed and expunged records are still “seen” but only to those with access to agency resources. However, effective clearance is registered in these systems and reflect the true nature of one’s history.
This is the ideal scenario–since licensing agencies, law enforcement, and government bureaus will always need some form of retention to compile data for public service aims.
What this means is that we have made it possible to achieve the most effective record clearance of your criminal history from hundreds of background check sources (both private and publicly available). This makes it possible for you and millions of others to take advantage of legal options in their states and enjoy a true fresh start with job, housing, and online dating opportunities.
The FBI, your DUI, and Expunction
It is therefore crucial to approach record clearance with realistic expectations, understanding that complete eradication of information from background checks may be a complex and ongoing process. Which makes the first and second steps that much more important.
The Federal Bureau of Investigations and any powerful government agency will obtain, compile, and make use of even basic offenses for purposes of national security and domestic intelligence.
Clearance procedures in the courts will still be reflected in these systems. But most of our neighbors don’t have accounts with Central Intelligence or the Pentagon. And your potential online dating match is not likely to be able to peek into DOJ systems.
What’s our point? Remove your records from the most likely sources that will cause you trouble with employment and your personal reputation. Period.
Having a criminal record can have severe consequences on various aspects of your life, especially when it comes to job prospects and getting closer to individuals that want to look you up. Critical procedures exists for millions of people to take advantage of immediately. And now is the time to harness the power of a tool like RecordFixer to quickly and effectively removal criminal history records from complex background check database networks.