Dear Consumer Ed:
I was recently turned down for a job because of an arrest last year. The case was dismissed and my record was supposedly expunged. Why did it still show up on a background check, and how do I go about getting all of these records removed so it will not affect my future employment?
Consumer Ed says:
In Georgia, an expungement only affects the criminal record maintained by the Georgia Crime Information Center (GCIC), and the relevant state and local agencies. So an expungement order served on GCIC doesn’t necessarily remove the booking records from the arrest held at the local police or sheriff’s department.
The employer might have found out about your arrest from a private background check. Some, but not all, private background check companies will remove expunged information if you contact them (usually for a fee—especially online “background check” sites). If the employer used a private company for your background check, they should have provided you with information about this company and how to get in touch with them.
Regardless of how the employer found out about your arrest, you don’t have the right under Georgia law to deny the fact that you were arrested. This is true even if you have had the arrest and charges expunged. This is why, if a potential employer asks, it’s best to just be honest. You can explain the circumstances involved and make sure that the employer knows that you were not convicted of any crime and have completed the expungement process. If you deny that you were arrested and that arrest appears on a private background check, you might be turned down for other jobs or face termination after you are hired.
Remember, you should keep copies of all relevant documents that prove that your record was expunged. If you would like to get copies of your GCIC records, contact your local police department or sheriff’s office. You will need to bring your ID and about $20 for any associated fees. You should also ask them if you can have the local arrest file expunged. There may be a fee to do so of around $25 to $50.
For more information on how to access or contest your criminal record, visit http://gbi.georgia.gov/obtaining-criminal-history-record-information.
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