How do arrests without charges appear during background checks?
March 3, 2010 7:46 PM   Subscribe

I was arrested and held for 12 hours without charges. How will this appear when background checks are run on me while applying for jobs?

In all fairness, I was extremely drunk at the time; when I was booked, my BrAC was .23. A subsequent question might be whether or not I can get records of the arrest, if any, expunged without engaging the services of a lawyer. Feel free to contact me directly:
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Direct this question to a local lawyer (check Legal Aid if you're broke) for answers specific to the facts and the jurisdiction you're in. He or she will be able to give you the right answer for your locality.
posted by motsque at 7:49 PM on March 3, 2010

You were just held in the drunk tank? Don't worry about it.
posted by geoff. at 8:09 PM on March 3, 2010

It would be nice to know what state you're in. You can consult with a lawyer (the consult will be somewhere between free and $75 dollars or so) who can tell you what the rules are in your jurisdiction regarding expungements and what sort of background checks the arrest would show up in. The lawyer would also be able to tell you whether you have anything to worry about in terms of criminal charges being filed.
posted by Happydaz at 9:10 PM on March 3, 2010

IANAL, but I have seen that arrests without conviction are fairly easy to have expunged in most states. The procedure is fairly straightforward - go to the court house and tell them you are petitioning for the expunction of an arrest from your criminal record. There are a million different sources on the internet for do-it-yourself expunction forms that include the petition and the motion for the judge to sign - either pay for them or dig around a little to roll your own. You file your papers with the clerk, you get a court date, and 99% of the time your arrest will be expunged if your state's requirements are met. Those requirements are usually pretty loose: you can't have had another recent expunction, you can be currently investigated for a crime, etc. Oh, and from what I remember you'll have to pay a small fee when you file your petition.

As far as what is going to appear on your criminal record, there's no way in the world to tell without knowing what state you're in. There are a number of factors involved - are you in a state that even reports arrests without conviction on record checks? Does your state report misdemeanors or arrests without conviction to the FBI? Is your potential employer a state agency, childcare provider, or healthcare provider (they get to see everything, including records that have been expunged)?

I can tell you with some certainty that if you're in Texas, your background check will show the arrest date and the charge (public intoxication, charmingly shortened to "public intox"). The disposition and conviction will both say "no data available." Nowhere on it will it say anything like "no charges filed" or "don't worry, he didn't get convicted."
posted by Willie0248 at 10:00 PM on March 3, 2010

In many jurisdictions, you can have a record sealed by filing a civil case in district court. Essentially, you're filing a case to say that no harm will come of this record being sealed, and the government has an opportunity to oppose it. Anecdotally, the clerk's office here says that around 90% of them go unopposed and go through without any dispute. The result is that if most people search your record, they come up with nothing. They don't even see the civil suit that you filed to seal the record, since that is automatically sealed as well. Law enforcement, on the other hand, still has access to the records. Other jurisdictions will vary.
posted by craven_morhead at 8:08 AM on March 4, 2010

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