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Job Applicants Hide Arrest Records From Employers

It
is not often that we send out links to our e-list from attorney’s but I
thought this was a very clear & concise presentation on the subject
of of dealing with arrest records

Frank Kopczynski  


Why the Sealing of a Criminal Record Could Help Level the Playing Field in a Tight Job Market

It’s
hard enough to find a job during these tough economic times. But for
the out-of-work applicant that is also burdened by a criminal record,
their job search can be particularly frustrating. In this age of
computers, potential employers have an easy method for discovering and
separating those applicants with a criminal record from those that are
"squeaky clean." Most employers won’t even consider an application when
they have the luxury of picking from an abundant number of prospects
who are unburdened by a past record of arrest.


Employers Find It Easy to Access Criminal Records
Just
how easy is it for a potential employer to do a background check on a
person applying for a job? Well, to start with, all criminal records in
Pinellas County are also "public records." That means that anyone can
walk into the Criminal Justice Center and without charge, inquire if a
person has a criminal record. Then they can ask the Clerk of Court to
provide them with the court file. With the benefit of the court file,
the potential employer can then read the facts and circumstances
surrounding the original arrest, charge and subsequent prosecution. Oh
yes… copies of all documents in criminal court files are available to
anyone ready to fork out $1.00 a page.

But
what if the employer lacks the time and initiative to visit the Clerk’s
Office? No problem, since much of this same information is also
available for free online. The Consolidated Justice Information System (
CJIS) 
is
provided to the public without charge. Anyone can do a CJIS online
inquiry using the job applicant’s name and easily uncover historical
information related to their arrest and prosecution. The employer can
also secure information related to a record of arrest directly from law
enforcement. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement provides this
readily accessible public information through the Internet. The FDLE
produces a detailed "
FCIC report
"
(Florida Crime Information Center) of arrest information associated
with any criminal case arising anywhere within the state of Florida.


"The Deer in the Headlights" – Online Booking Photos

Everyone
booked into the Pinellas County Jail is photographed. Within minutes,
that unflattering image is published on the Pinellas County Sheriff’s
Department website. The photograph and other booking information is
thereafter accessible world-wide. Potential employers can make a simple
inquiry on the PCSO website
using just a first and last name. Unlike commercial media services that publish booking photos online
for a period of only 60 days, the Sheriff’s Office will never pull the photos off-line unless the criminal record is sealed by court order.

Sealing  Expungement Blocks Employer Access to Criminal Records  
Florida law permits a person who successfully seals or expunges a criminal record to "lawfully deny or fail to acknowledge"
the sealed or expunged case, except in a very few limited
circumstances. In addition, sealed or expunged records are no longer
accessible to the general public.

Having
a record sealed or expunged results in the removal of all information
pertaining to an arrest and prosecution, including those records held
by the:  

  • Pinellas County Clerk of Court;
  • Online Consolidated Justice Information System (CJIS);
  • Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office;
  • Arresting law enforcement agency;
  • Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FCIC); and
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (NCIC)

The
official court order sealing a criminal record likewise directs any
other agencies to whom information regarding the arrest was
disseminated to remove them from public view.  Accordingly, an employer
who conducts an official background check would be told that no record
of arrest exists.  

Watch our video
on Sealing  Expunging Criminal Records

The Playing Field Now Becomes Even

Practically
speaking, a sealed record means that for most employment applications,
licensing requests, loan documents, property rental applications, and
educational pursuits, the applicant can truthfully deny that they have
ever been arrested, charged with a crime, or had to attend court in
conjunction with a criminal proceeding. They can truthfully

state, under oath, that the entire incident never took place.  Such a
remedy places them on an "even playing field" with all other job
applicants, since the prospective employer will never know of the
sealed or expunged record’s existence.

We Believe in Second Chances

When
a person makes a mistake or poor choice, we believe that they should
not have to bear the consequences forever. Having a criminal record
sealed gives them the opportunity to move on in a productive way as a
contributing member of society. Eliminating barriers to employment
through the sealing of a criminal record can be an effective method of
accomplishing just that goal.