How to delete a DUI record from the web?
May 27, 2015 7:30 PM   Subscribe

A friend of a friend received a DUI in Florida in 2011. She is now working as a doctor. She has a very distinct name, and searching for her name on Google or Bing results in links to her mugshot and arrest record. For obvious reasons, she would like for this not to happen.

The websites pull from the public record and have urls like jail.com, arrests.org and checkcourts.com. The results show up on the first page of a Bing search and the second page of a Google search. She has looked into companies that claim to be able to 'scrub' this information from these websites, and has gotten quotes ranging from $300-$2000. Is there a legitimate way to remove this info from these sites and/or web searches? Are any of the companies that offer this service reputable?
posted by gnutron to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
The first thing I would do, were in in my state (Washington, not Florida) is hire a lawyer to get the charge and conviction "expunged," to whatever degree that is possible in Florida. That would mean deleting/sealing the fact of the arrest and charge, and vacating/sealing the fact of the conviction. You may have to go through the court records, as well as records maintained by various law enforcement agencies. Each often maintain their own databases and background search companies pay to access all of them. Cleaning up the public record may or not be possible with a DUI conviction, it varies to a great degree by state and by the actual nature of the thing she was convicted of (i.e., was it reduced from a DUI), as well as the time elapsed. But as long as those things are in the public record you will be playing whack-a-mole against background search companies. You could have it removed from one, and then another company finds and publishes it. If/when the conviction has been "expunged," only then would I think about contacting the companies to remove the records. That said, background or criminal record companies are often based offshore, away from the convenient power of U.S. courts, and basically have a barely legal extortion racket going. I wouldn't trust them to remove the records even if the public record had been cleaned. But it's worth a shot. I say first call a lawyer who specializes in vacating/expunging criminal convictions.
posted by bepe at 7:47 PM on May 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


Does she have her own personal/professional web presence? It's often much easier to knock stuff off the first page of the Google search results by adding positive stuff than by removing negative stuff. She might be interested in Episode 18 of Reply All, which talks about a more extreme version of her situation.
posted by matildatakesovertheworld at 7:58 PM on May 27, 2015 [6 favorites]


Your friend of a friend could also Get a lawyer [MeFi Wiki] for a consultation about how to legally change her name.
posted by Little Dawn at 8:16 PM on May 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


Like matildatakesovertheworld says, it's unlikely she's going to be able to make it go away completely. The strategy is probably to also put positive information out there as a more authoritative source than a sleazy mugshot site. It would probably also be helpful to get a yelp listing or other third-party sites to talk about her in a more positive, or at least neutral way. Most people don't click past the first page or two of search listings.

I'm reminded of this article by [mefi's own] Anil Dash in 2002. The web has changed a bit, but I think that's still sound advice and you can't start too early.
posted by ctmf at 9:31 PM on May 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


Listen to this podcast and look into reputation recovery services. Basically, what they do is bury the bad under (if ethical, true) good stories built over time. Reply All episode
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 10:34 PM on May 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


I know(and know of) several people who have made this kind of thing go away entirely with the power of laywers and supersoaking cash at it. Expungement and then contacting the sites and other places it was listed, with the lawyer, to make it go away.

This is not cheap, i feel like i may have even heard it ran in to the >$10k range. It apparently worked though.

I wouldn't have any suggestions other than a lawyer though, and i know in those cases other things were tried first.
posted by emptythought at 11:51 PM on May 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


Interim solution -- I have a relatively rare name, but another person with my name apparently did some crazy criminal stuff. I just laugh when it comes up because I find it hilarious. "Oh yeah! The [my name] in [that place]! Isn't that crazy?"

If there's any deniability at all, she could go that route until this gets cleaned up.
posted by salvia at 9:32 AM on May 28, 2015


(I'm not suggesting she lie, in case my comment sounded that way, just that she avoid letting it make conversations awkward via a breezy reply, when that is situationally appropriate.)
posted by salvia at 9:47 AM on May 28, 2015


Your friend should talk to a Florida lawyer, but all the information she needs is available by downloading the expunge/seal packet here. If she is smart enough to be a doctor, she's probably smart enough to do this herself.

That said, she may not be eligible. In Florida, sealing and expungement are only for arrests that do not lead to conviction, and Florida allows such relief for only one arrest. According to page 3 of that document, DUI is a criminal conviction, and sealing/expungement is not available.

A Florida lawyer (perhaps the person who represented her on this charge) should look at her actual conviction and determine her eligibility. If adjudication of guilt was withheld, she may be able to get it sealed/expunged.

FWIW, both sealing and expungement have the same effect for employment purposes; the only difference is that expunged records are physically destroyed. I don't know, however, whether those websites would be required to remove the information.

This is not legal advice.
posted by amicus at 4:35 PM on May 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


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