Do Expunged or Sealed Records Show on Background Checks?

By Michael Klazema on 10/30/2018

By petitioning the court to expunge a criminal conviction, a person is essentially asking to wipe that conviction from the public record. If the court grants the request, the record should, for all intents and purposes, cease to exist. Sealing a record is a slightly different process. Sealed records are technically still there, but they are no longer part of the public record and can only be accessed and reviewed by way of a formal court order. One question that many ex-offenders ask when moving through the expungement or record-sealing process is whether these records can still show up on a criminal background check.

Ideally, an expunged or sealed record would not be reportable as part of any standard criminal background check. Individuals who seek to have their records expunged or sealed—and who are eligible for such outcomes—are often looking for the kind of fresh start that a clean record can provide. Once a record has been expunged or sealed, the person can truthfully answer “No” if asked whether they have ever been convicted of a crime. Many states legally bar employers from making hiring decisions based on expunged or sealed records, which means it’s actually better for hiring managers not to know this information.

However, just because a record has been expunged from the record or sealed from public view doesn’t mean all traces of it are gone. Expunged and sealed records can sometimes show up on criminal background checks.

Many courts or agencies, after granting a petition for expungement or record-sealing, do not inform the public of the decision. As a result, the conviction in question might be wiped from that court’s records but not from criminal history databases maintained by third parties. Since these databases are the go-to source of criminal history data for so many background check companies, sealed and expunged records will often still find their way onto a large percentage of pre-employment background checks.

At, we operate a program called MyClearStart designed to help individuals through the expungement process. If you have a conviction on your record, you can use MyClearStart to get a free evaluation on whether you might be eligible to have that conviction expunged, sealed, or otherwise removed from the public record.

If you are eligible and decide to go through with the process, you can return to when your petition for expungement is granted. We have a partnership with The Foundation for Continuing Justice which can help you to ensure your expunged record is eradicated from hundreds of criminal history databases around the United States. We offer this service free of charge. Click here to learn more about the partnership.

Tag Cloud
Recent Posts

Latest News

  • November 20 The #MeToo movement is bringing about legislative changes employers need to know about. We review some of the laws recently passed in California.
  • November 15

    Replacing an inconsistent array of procedures, Ontario's government has passed into law a reform act intended to clarify how police departments should handle requests for information to be used in background checks. 

  • November 14 The federal government has vowed to cut its backlog of security clearance background checks in half by spring. Currently, the backlog is approximately 600,000 names strong.
  • November 08 A Texas-based company was found to be supplying landlords with inaccurate background check results, potentially affecting housing decisions. The company must pay a record-setting settlement.
  • November 07 Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt brand trusts to perform the crucial function of background checks on job candidates before extending offers of employment.
  • November 06 The man previously responsible for running background checks on New York City’s school bus drivers says the city’s Department of Education has been pushing back against more thorough checks. The DOE reportedly circumnavigated proper bus driver vetting channels for most of the spring and summer this year.
  • November 06 If you have a series of speeding tickets or other traffic violations, do you need to disclose them as criminal history?
  • November 01 South Carolina's legislature recently adopted a measure to expand access to expungement opportunities for the state's ex-convicts, but other gaps in the process remain. Advocates disagree on how to address the problem to protect offenders as well as the public.
  • October 31 Background checks will show different things depending on the type of check. Here are a few ways employers can use background checks to learn about candidates.
  • October 30 The Pentagon recently disclosed a breach that exposed the personal information of roughly 30,000 personnel. The government blamed the breach on a contractor, calling into question background check policies for federal government vendors.