Did you know that all arrest records are available to the public? If so, you may have concerns about people looking up potential criminal activity that you have been arrested for and how that could impact your ability to get a job or rent an apartment. Thankfully, it is possible to seal your arrest records so that other people can't see them. Here is what you need to know about going through this unique process to seal your records.
When Arrest Records Can Be Sealed
There are some situations where you are able to seal arrest records. For example, if you were ever arrested for a crime, but you never had formal charges brought against you, that arrest would still be on your public arrest record. This can happen because a witness refused to testify and the charges were dismissed or dropped. It is also possible that your case was brought to court and you were eventually found to be not guilty. Even though you won your case, the arrest still remains on your records.
Why Arrest Records Should Be Sealed
Even if you were never found guilty of a crime you were previously arrested for, that arrest becomes part of your public record. Anybody can look this up in the future, which includes family members, employers, and landlords. You do not want to be in this situation where an arrest is held against you, even if you were cleared of all charges.
Sealing arrest records means that they still exist, but they will not be viewable by the public. Police officers are still able to see your arrest record if you are suspected of a crime in the future, but others will not be able to see the arrest if they are doing a background check on you.
How Sealing Arrest Records Is Different From Expungement
Don't make the mistake of confusing sealing arrest records with expungement. Expungement is when criminal activity is completely removed from your records where no one can see it, even police officers. Expungement is common for people completely exonerated of a conviction or arrest. Since an arrest may not be completely exonerated, it remains on your record. It is much harder to get an arrest exonerated, which makes sealing the arrest record much easier to do.
If you feel that you want to have your arrest record sealed, be sure to work with a criminal defense attorney in your area. They have the expertise to help you get this task done.