Spill the beans or clam up?
January 1, 2010 10:25 AM   Subscribe

Do I have to divulge stuff that isn't on my record?

A year ago I got a disorderly conduct charge. It is supposed to drop off my record after a year.

I am about to look for apartments and of course, they ask if about your criminal record.

If this charge is off my record....does it not show up in a background check? I am kinda torn about it, on the one hand I don't want to lie on the application, on the other hand, what is the point of it not being on my record if I have to divulge it?

Has anyone had a similar experience? What would you do in this situation?
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (9 answers total)
Do I have to divulge stuff that isn't on my record?

I think not.
posted by snowjoe at 10:28 AM on January 1, 2010

The whole point to having it expunged from your records is to make stuff like this not an issue. I'd say you wouldn't even be lying.

It's not like you're trying to get hired by the FBI or something.
posted by floam at 10:37 AM on January 1, 2010

If the question is "what is on your record" and there isn't anything on your record, then you can answer nothing. That is a different question from "have you ever been charged/arrested/etc."

If the larger question is "will this bite me on the ass", it is harder to answer. If the landlord has a way to get your rap-sheet and sees an arrest, but you answered nothing, then he might think you are hiding something. Legally, you'd be in the right, but that might be a fight you don't want.
posted by gjc at 10:38 AM on January 1, 2010

Exactly what floam said.
If it's not on your record, it is essentially gone.
posted by Germs of Love at 10:45 AM on January 1, 2010

Check your record to ensure that it is off there. You may need to expunge it.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:01 AM on January 1, 2010

Have a friend call the managing agent, or whoever approves leases, and have your friend say to them "So, I'm interested in an apartment in building X, however, a year ago I was arrested for disorderly conduct. I want to know if this is going to be a problem for you when I apply for a lease."

If it is a problem, then move on. If it is not, then apply.
posted by dfriedman at 11:52 AM on January 1, 2010

Yeah, I think you should definitely "lie." The whole point of having it removed from your record is to help you in situations just like this one.

Also, you say "charge," not "conviction." Does the application really ask if you've ever been charged with anything? Most forms of this sort that I've seen specifically asked if you've been convicted.

After all, being charged doesn't mean that you did it. It just means that some cop thinks you did it. The removal from your record suggests that the system decided otherwise. You're clean.
posted by bingo at 12:38 PM on January 1, 2010

I got busted for shoplifting in Los Angeles during my freshman year of high school. After completing a juvenile diversion class, I was guaranteed by the police department that the charge would be dropped and there would be no record of it. 13 years later, it popped up in a criminal background check by the NYC Department of Education. Call the local police department and court to see if it really has been expunged.
posted by HotPatatta at 12:51 PM on January 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

It is not lying if it is no longer on your record -- that is the point of expunction. However, if you're worried about this, check your record first. Also nthing bingo; a charge is not the same as a conviction. It's not a matter of semantics, either.
posted by asciident at 5:50 PM on January 1, 2010

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