T Nation

Employer Wants to See Expunged Records


So, if an employer asks to see your "criminal" past, and you had something like petty theft of a CD back when you were 16 (over 10 years ago), what should you do?

You're about to get an offer from them.

Should you just say, "Look, there's one thing on my record and it was a shop lifting of a CD with friends when I was a teenager. There is otherwise nothing on my records." ?

It was a misdemeanor, too.


EDIT: I forgot to mention that the records were sealed at one point.


Expunged means it isn't public record anymore.

Why would you say anything about something that isn't public record?


Isn't that the whole point of being "expunged"? It doesn't exist as far as the law is concerned at that point, correct?



One case where this doesn't hold is when applying for citizenship in the US. Expunging the record doesn't help in this case.


Ok. I just don't want it to somehow come out in the open at one point such that the offer is retracted.

I agree with you, I thought being sealed/expunged means "None yo goddamn binness."

Curious if any attorneys can chime in as well...



Expungment removes things you were charged with but not convicted of. If you were convicted, the charges stand unless pardoned from your governor (which ain't gonna happen unless you are a war hero, in which case it is still iffy.)

Usually the best bet on this is to be honest and play it off as kids stuff, you have grown up and learned your lesson, blahblahblah, because depending on how in depth they search, they can find anything.

Believe me. I lost an opportunity a while back with one of the top 10 employers in the US because of this. I left the box on the application blank, and talked my way through it in the interview. Turns out that at enormous expense to themselves, the company hired an independent investigator to do an actual physical search of the prothonotory office in my county, and they found everything(post-expungement) going back to when I was fifteen. It wasn't a whole lot, but enough to eliminate me.

Do yourself a favor and talk to an attorney who is familiar with this facet of the law to get the real skinny for your state, and for federal matters if they apply, like licencing or certifications from FBI or ATF.


Attorneys generally can't give legal advice over the internet. That said, and assuming this is all occurring in California, generally you can look to here: http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/selfhelp/other/crimlawclean.htm#whatdisdo, which will tell you to read California Penal Code §1203.4 (http://leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=pen&group=01001-02000&file=1191-1210.5) and the California Code of Regulations 7287.4(d) (http://www.fehc.ca.gov/act/pdf/code_regulations.pdf), and finally to contact a public defender in your county if you have questions.

Below is the relevant language, though there are exceptions, so you may want to read the two statutes yourself. I should add that I'm also assuming this is a private employer you're talking about. I bolded the parts which speak directly to your question.

1203.45. "(a) In a case in which a person was under the age of 18
years at the time of commission of a misdemeanor and is eligible for
...the relief provided by Section 1203.4 or
1203.4a, that person...may petition the court for an
order sealing the record of conviction and other official records in
the case, including records of arrests resulting in the criminal
proceeding and records relating to other offenses charged in the
accusatory pleading, whether defendant was acquitted or charges were
dismissed. If the court finds that the person was under the age of 18
at the time of the commission of the misdemeanor, and is eligible
for relief...it may issue its order granting the relief prayed for.
Thereafter the conviction, arrest, or other proceeding shall be
deemed not to have occurred, and the petitioner may answer
accordingly any question relating to their occurrence

7287.4(d)"Criminal Records. Except as otherwise provided by law (e.g., 12 U.S.C. 1829; Labor Code Section 432.7), it is unlawful for an employer or other covered entity to inquire or seek information regarding any applicant concerning...(B) Any conviction for which the record has been judicially ordered sealed, expunged, or statutorily eradicated (e.g., juvenile offense records sealed pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code Section 389 and Penal Code Sections 851.7 or 1203.45)...."


Each state has different policies about what can be sealed or expunged.



This is completely not true.
You are in PA?
I had a misdemeanor there and it was expunged and it is not on my record at all.
I've had several record checks done in PA and it is not listed on any of them.
The only way they can be listed is in certain cases where you commit the same crime within a certain time period after the original was committed.

But as a poster above said, each state is different.
Call a lawyer for a free consultation.
Generally though, if it was expunged, you don't have to admit to it ever having happened.


Well then, you should go explain that to the Judge at my expungement, my attorney, RG Johnson Company, Klink & Company, Consol Energy, the FBI, the ATF and the many other numerous and varied institutions here in Pennsylvania that COMPLETELY DISAGREE with you.


Ok, got what I needed. Thanks, everyone.


A few of those are government agencies.
It might be different in that case.
But for NORMAL employment, they do not have the right to ask you about expunged crimes.
It stipulates this on applications for employment and specifies that you can omit traffic offenses and expunged records.
So, I'm not too worried about what all those companies and your lawyer disagree with, br0.
What would be the point of expunging the charge and not the conviction?


Damn dude - what the hell did you do??!!


nothing is ever expunged. depending on the company, especially a government job they have access to all of it. id tell them. being ten years ago if you have nothing else on your record it shouldnt be a big deal. better to tell them than have it come up.


Private employers can ask almost anything they want to ask, exceptions being things like credit scores (and they can get those, too, depending on the job).



Once my conviction is expunged, can I answer "No" to questions about convictions on job applications?
Legally, you may answer "No" to these types of questions. Keep in mind, though, that background checks typically go back 10 years, and employers can see that you had a conviction dismissed. Answering "No" may look dishonest. A better response may be "Yes, expungement granted."

If you are applying for a government job, a job that requires security clearance, or a job that requires a government-issued license, certificate or permit, the conviction will be discovered during the standard background check. You should disclose the conviction and expungement in these situations.

If you are applying for a government-issued license, certificate, or permit, you must disclose your conviction and expungement.

How does an expungement affect strikes or other sanctions?
Although your conviction may be dismissed, the sanctions such as firearms prohibitions, exclusions from jury duty, or strikes, cannot be dismissed. These remain intact for life.

An expungement does not:

Remove the conviction from your criminal history. California and FBI criminal history records will still show the conviction and the subsequent dismissal.
Reinstate your right to possess firearms.
Allow you to omit the conviction from applications for government-issued licenses.
Seal the court case file from public inspection. The court file remains public record.
Prevent the conviction from being used as a "prior" for sentencing enhancements in subsequent convictions.
Prevent the conviction from being used to impeach your testimony if you are called as a witness in court.
Prevent the conviction from being used to refuse or revoke a government license or permit, such as real estate license, teaching credential, security guard certificate, etc.
Prevent the conviction from being used by US Citizenship and Naturalization Services for removal or exclusion purposes.

This is why I fucking hate the law. Manipulative fucking garbage.

What the fuck does it mean that you can expunge something but it can still count against you?

Why can they ask something they're not allowed to ask? Is it because they think the avg person doesn't know any better, and hence if they give up information that wasn't obtained unlawfully, the employer can now act on it?


Yes, they can ask but you are not required to tell them about it if it was expunged.

A lot of that criteria looks like it is aimed at felony convictions.
Misdemeanors don't tend to restrict you from buying firearms or serving on jury duty.
Then again, is it possible to get felonies expunged?
Call a lawyer for a free consult.


Not much, really. But if a job requires the use of high explosives or access to certain federal facilities, people start looking up pretty far up your ass to find out whether or not you should be handling a given substance or have direct access to sensitive information.

They have tightened up a lot on that stuff in the past few years.


I would be honest with them because they can find out anyway. Yes, it's embarrassing, but HR departments know that MOST people have done dumb shit in their lifetimes. Most people don't get caught, but some do. Just find a way to tell the story with some self deprecating humor if possible, and assure them it was a mistake you learned from. If they believe that you will bring value to the company, they will find a way to hire you.

It is my understanding that they can't ask you about shit you did as a minor, and that your records are sealed when you turn 18... But check the laws of your state.

I currently work for a BANK and I have an ARMED ROBBERY conviction... When I was interviewing, I was very upfront about it and brought it up during the interview (It was before I filled out an application, as I was referred through a mutual acquaintance). But I had already told him about the gross volume of my pipeline, talked about my marketing company that I use to generate leads, talked about how I use NLP with my clients with a focus on generating referrals, and talked about some unique and creative ways that I had structured loans for clients with various challenges. So the the guy interviewing me was salivating to hire me. Then I told him about the felony. His reply was, "well I wouldn't worry about that, I'll walk your application to HR myself".

Sell yourself.


Damnit, I completely forgot about your "history." Would've PM'd you directly. Memory is failing in my old age.

Yeah, the skills are desirable and their offer is unreal. They wouldn't do that shit if they didn't want the person.

But most laymen don't know their rights, that's what bothers me, and companies know that people don't know their rights.