Interviewer: Is there anything that a client can do to make the expungement go more smoothly?
Lauren Scardella: Giving us accurate, or at least moderately accurate, information is extremely helpful. If you keep good records yourself, you should be able to tell us exactly the information we need and that makes finding it with the court extremely easy in most cases. Even if you only know the approximate year or what you were arrested for but not what you were ultimately convicted of, if you know what town it happened it, that makes it much easier. There have been times when people weren’t really sure where it was that they were charged. They thought it was maybe this town or maybe that town and they couldn’t remember the exact dates. We had to go and ask three different courts “Were they here?” Sometimes we got a court staff that was nice enough to look it up for us and tell us “Actually it was in this place.” So they’ll give us the idea. That makes it a lot harder if we’re chasing our tails trying to figure out where a person was convicted of something. Ideally, the person knows where and approximately when they were convicted. That just makes the process a lot easier for us.
There are Certain Jobs or Educational Institutions Where an Individual Has to Disclose Expunged Convictions
Interviewer: Are there any times someone might have to disclose an expunged offense?
Lauren Scardella: If one is applying to certain types of schools, for example law schools; you have to disclose your expunged convictions. That also goes for being licensed to practice law. You have to disclose to them if you are applying to become a police officer. Although an expungement is technically a complete deletion of the file, the State Police technically still have access to it. If you apply at the State Police, they’re going to look and find out. There are certain times that you’ll have to disclose your expunged record.
The Application Forms in Such Institutions or Organizations are Pretty Clear Regarding the Information Required
Most of the time, the application forms are pretty clear and they’ll say, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime, including expunged offenses?” The vast majority of the time when they want you to disclose expunged things, they’ll say “even if expunged” or they might say “Have you ever been convicted of a crime other than a crime which has been expunged?” If it says the latter, you can still lie to them and tell them no because you’ve got that legal right. There are times that you will have to disclose that. It’s going to be pretty clear but we get calls from our clients and other people who want to know “Do I have to disclose as I’m filling up this application? Can you read you the question?” The answer is always yes, we will be happy to read the question and advise you of how to answer it.
It is Advisable to Consult with an Attorney and Be Honest When Applying for a State or a Federal Job
Interviewer: What about like state or federal jobs?
Lauren Scardella: It depends. If you’re applying to be in the FBI or something, yes, you’ve got to tell them. They are going to polygraph you anyway, so they’re going to know if you’re lying. I had a professor in college who would say that he was in federal law enforcement. Now I think he was probably in the NSA but at the time we all thought he was in the CIA. Anyway, he said “When it comes to applications for federal jobs, you should always be honest.” I don’t know if that’s the best policy without consulting with an attorney first and taking a look at the application itself. I think he was also referring more to things like federal law enforcement applications and they ask you things like “How many times you smoked pot in your life?” They’re going to find out, so be honest because you are more likely to get credit for being honest than to look like somebody who is dishonest even if the answer really isn’t all that bad.