We have often received calls from people who are under the impression that their misdemeanor or felony record will be cleared or somehow go away after a certain period of time. We have had several clients tell us that they thought that after seven years, a conviction would no longer appear on their criminal record. Unfortunately, criminal records have no expiration date—if you have a conviction in Connecticut, it will stay on your record forever.
Many people think that their criminal record has been “erased” because they have undergone a background check and the conviction failed to come up during the course of the investigation. The reason for this is that a background check is only as good as the background check company that searches for your records. Many background check companies only search for convictions dating back a certain period of time (oftentimes, that time period is seven years, which is why background check companies sometimes do not uncover convictions). The only way to clear your criminal record (other than through an appeal or habeas) is by obtaining a Pardon.
Technically, a Pardon clears your criminal record, and once you are granted a Pardon, it is as if you were never arrested. It is important to note, however, that the Pardon is a state action and even though your record has been expunged, we often advise our clients to disclose the fact that they were convicted and subsequently Pardoned when filing out certain applications. Often, candor and transparency are more important to the entity conducting the background check. For example, we advise clients applying to law or medical school to disclose the fact of conviction and Pardon. We have clients who have been hired by law enforcement, accepted to law and medical school and received job offers in the highly regulated financial industry after receiving Pardons.
Ways to Clear Your Criminal Record
The law provides many different opportunities to clean up your criminal record:
- Full or Provisional Pardon: We can help you file a petition for a provisional pardon or a full pardon with the Connecticut Board of Pardons and Parole. This will help you move forward with your life and allow you to pursue career opportunities without the impediment of a criminal record.
- Expungements: If you have not been convicted, we can work to get your fingerprint information and the arrest information returned.
- Appeals: We can help you appeal a conviction or a sentence if there are grounds to do so.
- Sentence modifications: When your situation changes and you need to move out of state, travel, or have your sentence modified in some way, we will file the applications and other forms necessary for you to apply for a sentence modification.
Your 3 options when applying for a Pardon:
- Full Pardon: A full Pardon results in a complete expungement of your criminal record. If the Board of Pardons grants a Full Pardon, your criminal record will be completely erased.
- Conditional Pardon: A Conditional Pardon is very similar to a Full Pardon in that your record will be expunged; however, the Board of Pardons will place a condition or requirement that you must abide by or fulfill. Failure to abide by this condition may result in the Pardon being revoked.
- Certificate of Employability: A Certificate of Employability is not the same as erasure of your criminal record. These types of Pardons are given to prevent employers or future employers from denying employment because of an applicant’s criminal record.
Whereas a full pardon will completely erase your criminal record, a provisional pardon will not erase your criminal history and is used primarily for employment purposes. When a provisional pardon is issued, it serves to notify employers or licensing agencies that you cannot be denied employment or professional licensure due to your conviction. You may apply for a provisional pardon any time after a conviction.
Our attorneys will help you determine which pardon is right for your situation. If you were recently convicted of a crime and are seeking employment, then a provisional pardon could be right for you. We will provide an honest assessment of your situation so you can make the best decision possible for your future.
Pardons vs. Expungement
Oftentimes, these terms are used interchangeably. When submitting a Pardon application, you can request to be considered for a Certificate of Employability, but this is not the same thing as an expungement of your record. A Certificate of Employability is a certification from the Board of Pardons that directs an employer to not deny an employment application based solely on your criminal record. It is not an expungement and while it may qualify you to hold certain types of licenses, you will still have a criminal record.
An expungement of your record means that records of your conviction are erased from the criminal database and they can no longer be shared with any person or entity. It is important to understand that an expungement of your record is a state act and even after your record is expunged in Connecticut, there may still be a federal database containing records of your arrest. Connecticut has jurisdiction over state law and cannot dictate federal law. When someone is arrested in the state of Connecticut, they are often fingerprinted. Three sets of fingerprints are taken; one set gets sent to the Department of Public Safety, one stays in the local police department where the arrest occurred, and one goes to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (“FBI”). A federal agency such as the FBI is under no obligation to erase their database consistent with state law. Only the president of the United States can grant a pardon for a federal conviction, if you were convicted of a federal crime, you must submit a Presidential Pardon Application.
How to get articles about your case erased from the Internet
If you are arrested, notification of your arrest may appear in a police blotter, or in an article in the local – or even national – news. Oftentimes, your image or mugshot will also appear in the article. Once publication of your arrest appears on the Internet, anyone with Internet access can find out that you have been arrested and learn details surrounding your charges. This may cause a great deal of concern to you if you are a public figure, if you hold a job that requires security clearance, or if you simply wish to move on with your life after your case has been dismissed.
Connecticut General Statutes has an Erasure Statute, C.G.S. §54-142a, which provides that once a case has been dismissed (or 13 months after a nolle has been entered) it is as if you have never been arrested. Unfortunately, Connecticut General Statutes do not govern the press, and online news companies that publish these articles may continue to publish news about your arrest.
Many local news publications will agree to remove your article from their website upon confirmation of a successful disposition of your criminal matter. In other cases, publication companies may be willing to publish an update to the article confirming a favorable disposition and remove meta tags. A meta tag is a code word, or words, that describe the contents of the article. This information is used by search engines such as Google to index a page so that someone who searches for particular information will be able to find it. Once the publication company removes meta tags, the article detailing your arrest will no longer appear during a Google search.
The CT pardon attorneys and staff at Koffsky & Felsen, LLC have helped many of our clients remove articles detailing their arrests from the Internet. Here at Koffsky & Felsen, LLC, we have the knowledge and experience to assist you in obtaining documentation confirming the disposition of your case and in contacting local news publications in order to have your article deleted or revised.