Having an arrest record appear online can be a major hindrance to your future, whether the charges were dismissed, you were found “Not Guilty” in a trial, or you served your sentence. An arrest record can impact your job prospects, your ability to rent an apartment, and more. In this article, we’ll discuss the methods by which you can remove an arrest record and work toward clearing your name.
Why is My Arrest Record Online?
Arrest records are considered “public information” in the US, which means that if anyone wants to look into your background, they can unfortunately access that record. The days when someone had to make a records request in person at a municipal or county office are long gone. Today, anyone can check public information sites to find an arrest record or mugshot.
About 20 years ago, we started to see a proliferation of websites on the internet that began publishing mugshots and/or arrest records. So long as these sites are not soliciting people for a fee to take their mugshots down, the sites are protected under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
The problem with websites that publish arrest records online is that an arrest report often only tells half the story. Many thousands of individuals are arrested every single year, but end up never being convicted of the crime they were accused of committing. The charges may end up being dropped or dismissed, or a jury may find that person “Not Guilty” in a court of law.
Unfortunately, the record of that arrest will still remain online unless you proactively go through the remove arrest record process.
Will an Arrest Record Show up in a Background Check?
Your arrest record will show up on a background check. Some states will report an arrest record and will include additional information, such as whether the case resulted in a dismissal or conviction. Here are some of the ways that background checks are reported:
- Pending Case — This means that someone was arrested, but the case has not yet been adjudicated.
- Arrest with Non-Conviction — This means an arrest took place, but the case was dismissed or the accused person was found not guilty.
- Arrest with Conviction — The individual was arrested and prosecuted, and paid a penalty such as fines or jail/prison time.
Even if an arrest record does show up on a background check, it’s not the end of the world. California, for example, is one state that prohibits employers from considering an arrest record in making hiring decisions. In other states, employers are only allowed to consider an arrest record if it has happened within the previous seven (7) years.
Federal anti-discrimination laws caution employers that they must have a very good reason for not hiring a person with an arrest record.
Do Arrest Records Go away if I’m Not Convicted?
Unfortunately, arrest records stay in place until you take proactive steps to have them expunged. Even if you take your case to trial and are found “Not Guilty,” the arrest record will still exist in some form as a public record.
Many people are under the mistaken impression that arrest records simply vanish on their own, after a certain number of years. This is a result of mistaking an arrest record with other types of records that do go away after a certain period of time.
For example, a bankruptcy will automatically be expunged from your credit report after seven (7) years. Employers in many states are not allowed to consider an arrest record that took place more than seven (7) years ago. An arrest will still be on your record, however, no matter how much time has passed.
How Do I Remove Arrest Record from the Internet?
Every state provides a legal remedy for individuals to have an arrest record removed from official government websites, especially if the arrest did not result in a conviction. There are also processes by which a record of an arrest and conviction can be expunged (sealed and hidden as if it never happened).
Keep in mind that there are certain types of felony convictions that you may never be able to remove from the public record, including homicide and certain types of sex crimes.
Although it has been a long time coming, a few states are beginning to proactively expunge and/or seal arrest records that do not result in a conviction. Montana, for example, are now automatically removed from the state’s criminal database; no one can access that record without a court order. Residents of Montana do not have to hire an attorney or even fill out paperwork for this result, because it is done automatically under a law that passed in 2016.
Remove Arrest Record from Government Website
The process varies across most states, but you can have your arrest record “expunged” (erased from state criminal databases) and sealed, meaning no on can access them through a routine background check. The process generally works like this in many states:
- Each state sets a guideline for how much time must have passed before a record can be expunged. The amount of time will vary based on whether there was a conviction or non-conviction. For example, it might take two years from the time of the arrest to expunge a non-conviction.
- Once that amount of time has passed, you can apply to have the record expunged.
- This can be a lengthy and complicated process, depending on which state you live in. It is strongly advised that you seek the guidance of an experienced attorney.
- You will be required to fill out some paperwork. The arresting jurisdiction will be the one that provides this paperwork, depending on which agency conducted the arrest (city police, county sheriffs, state troopers).
- You will also need a copy of the court order which states that the charges were dropped, the case was dismissed, or you were found “not guilty.”
- File the paperwork, and wait for the record to be expunged.
Once you go through this process, it may take some time for the arresting jurisdiction to remove your record from public information sources. There may also be extenuating circumstances that cause the government to deny your petition for expungement of your records. A second arrest more recently, for example, could derail the process.
Remove Arrest Record from Private Website
Private entity websites, such as news or mugshot websites, are under no obligation remove an arrest record from the internet. This does not mean that you should not take steps to have them take the arrest record down.
Our best advice for this is to recommend that you contact us at Remove Mugshots directly. We will conduct a free analysis and in many cases, we can successfully help you through the remove arrest record process within 72 hours!
What if My Record is Expunged & I Still Find My Arrest Online?
If foot-dragging were an Olympic sport, government agencies would win the gold medal every time. It’s not uncommon at all to go through the expungement process, dotting your ‘I’s and crossing your ‘T’s perfectly, only to discover that your arrest record is still publicly available several weeks or months after it should have been taken down.
Sometimes government agencies simply fall behind in the process of erasing public records. If your record is still appearing in the public database, contact that agency and ask them specifically when you can expect your record to be expunged. Get an answer from them in writing, via email or a letter, if you can.
If you continue to get excuses, even after contacting them, it’s a good idea to get your attorney involved in the process. If you got an answer in writing and the agency did not meet that deadline, your attorney will be very effective in speeding up the removal of your arrest record.
Will My Arrest Record Go away on Its Own?
Your arrest record will probably always exist in some form, even if you are not convicted of a crime and your record is completely expunged from criminal databases. The real question is whether or not potential employers, landlords, banks and others will be able to access that record and learn about the arrest.
If your arrest record has been officially expunged, then no one can ever access it again without a court order. This is extremely unlikely to ever happen, unless you are subsequently arrested for another crime.
As we mentioned earlier, Montana is one of the few states that now automatically expunges arrest records that did not result in a conviction. In most other cases, you must become actively involved in order to make your arrest record “go away.” It will not happen automatically.
When you consider all of the ways that an arrest record can negatively impact your future, it is well worth it to go through the process. Your housing prospects, job prospects and even personal or romantic prospects can be negatively impacted by an arrest record that shows up in a background check.
What Other Steps Can I Take to Remove Arrest Record Online?
Most people do not have a huge “online presence,” so when someone does a Google search for their name, their arrest record is one of the first things that comes up. One strategy that can be helpful for individuals is to create an online footprint that can help to “push” your arrest record off the front page of search results.
Active social media accounts rank very highly in Google search results, for example. Creating social media pages for yourself on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and other social media sites can help. The key is to remain active on all of those channels, posting updates at least twice a week on each of them.
This process is a lot of work, but it can eventually push your arrest record off the first page of results when someone does a Google search for your name. Keep the social media posts positive! Don’t talk about how you were falsely arrested, or the cop who was a jerk when he arrested you on false charges.
Get a Free Remove Arrest Record Analysis Right Now
In most situations, we can remove your arrest record and mugshot from privately owned websites in as little as 72 hours. We’ll even provide a free analysis to let you know how quickly we can remove your arrest record from the most common mugshot and arrest sites on the internet.
Contact Remove Mugshots today for your free arrest removal analysis! Call 844-641-8163 now.