October 15, 2015

Today’s applications for employment, housing, educational institutions, and even loan applications are often asking: Have you ever been charged with OR convicted of a criminal offense? And if so, please explain…

Most people realize if they have previously been convicted of a criminal offense, that conviction (i.e. finding of guilt by plea or after trial) will appear on their criminal record. What most people do not realize is that being charged with a crime (i.e. being issued a citation, criminal summons or otherwise arrested for a criminal offense) will also appear on their criminal record, despite the ultimate outcome or disposition. For example, if a person is charged with larceny, and the charge is latter dismissed by the District Attorney because there was insufficient evidence to prosecute, the person charged used a fake name which leads to the wrong person being charged with a crime, or the person charged participates in some program which ultimately leads to the charge being dismissed, the fact that you were charged with the crime will appear on your criminal record.

Now back to the original question above, the applicant whose charge was dismissed would still have to answer the question above “Yes” truthfully. Since the original charge was ultimately dismissed, you could truthfully answer that you were never convicted of a criminal offense, however, the fact that you were charged with a crime does not change even when that charge is later dismissed. Being charged with a criminal offense is part of the public record, which means anyone accessing your criminal history will see the charge itself. This is where expunctions come into play. Rather than having to explain to your potential boss, landlord or loan officer why a crime you were charged with was later dismissed, an expunction can completely erase the fact that you were ever even charged with a criminal offense from your criminal record.

 This is especially important for theft related or violent criminal offenses. A potential employer or landlord may not care that the offense charged was later dismissed if it falls into either of these two categories. In today’s job market employers are often inundated with applications for available positions. Therefore, making sure your application is squeaky clean is essential if you are to be considered for even an interview, let alone the final acceptance. If an employer has to choose between two viable candidates for a position, both equally qualified by experience and/or educational status, one with a charge of larceny or assault that was ultimately dismissed, and one with a clean criminal record with no charges or convictions, you can safely assume the employer or landlord will go with the applicant with a clean criminal record over the applicant with theft and/or violent charges that were later dismissed.

This may be utterly unfair if someone used your name when they were stopped and were issued a citation or arrested, or even if the State never had sufficient evidence to charge you with the crime to begin with. Unfortunately, the harm is done when the charge itself hits your criminal record. Fortunately, the attorneys with Kimberly Saxton & Associates, PLLC are here to help you clean up your criminal record and are happy to speak with you regarding your expungement options. Call us today for a free consultation relating to your expungement.

Stay tuned for our next blog topic on expungements which goes into some additional avenues available that may be available to erase even criminal convictions from your criminal record under specific circumstances.

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