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Expunging the Expungement

In an effort to try to effectively expunge clients' records, a central Pennsylvania lawyer included in proposed orders that two local newspapers be ordered by the court to expunge his clients' records.  A judge signed the orders and the lawyer sent certified copies to the two newspapers which directed the newspapers to delete references to arrests of the clients that appeared earlier in the papers, and which could still be viewed on the internet.  The papers objected, and the judge reversed the order, citing the First Amendment and the strong protection given the news media.  The judge said, "I can't tell them what to do." 

What does this mean for you?  If you were charged with a criminal offense and were lucky enough to resolve the charges leading to their expungement, you still may have to live with the reporting of your arrest that appeared in any media forum, including the newpapers and the internet.

An expungement removes the "official" record of your arrest, the charges, and their disposition.  An employer who searches the "official" record will not find information about your prior problems.  However, there are companies that scour the internet looking for this type of information of arrests and charges, and then keep a data base of them long before an expungement is ordered.  As an example, I had a client several years ago that had his case expunged.  He went away to college and didn't have to reveal to the college that he had been arrested and charged with various crimes.  A year later, he filled out an application for an apartment, only to find that his application had been denied, because the rental agency used a company that obtained records of arrests before they were expunged. 

As members of the Criminal Defense Bar we are trying to find ways to prevent this, but as you just read, it may be difficult to stop.   Regardless, if you can get the record of your case expunged, you should always do so. 

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