Guest Post By: Gabriel Biello
Getting one’s criminal record expunged is no easy process. Staying out of trouble, satisfying the required sentencing and fines, filling out the paperwork, etc. Now that the conviction has been expunged, that should be the end of it, right?
In most cases, it is. But sometimes an expunged or sealed record still turns up in a background search, even though it shouldn’t. This is usually the result of one of the many unregulated, private background check companies that maintain their own databases. These private records sometimes contain convictions that have been set aside. In some cases, these convictions can still show up in background checks despite the court order expunging it. Thankfully, there are actions one can take to ensure that an expunged record is removed from such private databases.
Thanks to the work of the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law and lawsuits filed by organizations like Community Legal Services, background check companies are beginning to take seriously their responsibility to make sure their databases and the reports they provide are accurate. That includes removing expunged or set aside records from their databases.
In 2010, Community Legal Services helped John Giddiens expunge a criminal case. Unfortunately, in 2011 he was denied a job because the case still appeared in a background check, even though it had been removed from every “official record.” This was despite the fact that the Pennsylvania Courts had created a system to notify private background checking agencies that convictions had been expunged so they would know to remove them from their databases. Because they were not updating their databases by removing expunged convictions, Giddiens filed a class action lawsuit under the Fair Credit Reporting Act against the background checking agency, LexisNexis. Giddiens alleged that LexisNexis was not following reasonable procedures to ensure that the information they were selling was as accurate as possible and that they did not make sure that the information they were providing to employers was complete and up to date. As the result of the lawsuit, LexisNexis agreed to a cash settlement to a class of people whose convictions they had neglected to remove from their database.
Class action lawsuits such as Giddiens vs. LexisNexis, Henderson v. HireRight Solutions Inc.; Roe v. Intellicorp Records Inc.; and Robinson v. General Information Services Inc., have pushed background checking organizations into cooperating with a free service through the Foundation for Continuing Justice. However, not every company is on board and it’s possible for a person’s expungement to slip through the cracks. Anyone who wishes to check if their expunged conviction can click here and fill out a form to see if the record still appears.
If you are looking to figure out whether or not you can expunge your Oregon arrest or conviction, use our free questionnaire to determine your eligibility and receive a response from an Oregon attorney, Gabriel Biello. If you are eligible, I can help you through the expungement process to ensure that every “official record” of your Oregon case is sealed. From there, the Foundation for Continuing Justice can help you ensure that your conviction if removed from “unofficial” databases.
Gabriel Biello is a criminal defense attorney in Hillsboro Oregon. He has practiced criminal defense exclusively since graduating from the University of Oregon School of Law in 2005. While most of his time as a lawyer is spent trying to keep people from being convicted in the first place, he enjoys helping people clear their record and get a fresh start. While not practicing law, he is busy spending time with his wife and two young children.