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I've previously had my name changed in a district court in the state of Utah. The case was filed as an adult name change and the case itself was order sealed by the judge who heard it. All of my identification has been changed to reflect this fact, and copies of the court order to seal were provided to the issuing agencies as well.

I'm applying to the Division of Occupational Licences to get practice a regulated profession in the state of Utah. Part of the application asks 'all previous legal names.' Am I required to disclose my old name here despite the fact that the case was sealed? The statutes governing name changes in Utah do not provide any guidance for this situation.

As an admittedly rough comparison, the application also calls to disclose old criminal records unless they have been expunged. (Which, so far as I understand it, is the practical equivalent in the State of Utah) This despite that the governing statute, the Utah Expungement Act, states that DoPL may access expunged records upon request.

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Was the case Sealed? Or is it considered to be Private? Those are two different cases.

I was not able to find any laws regarding sealing, or expunging records of Name Changes, but was able to find the Utah Law for Criminal Records. I can only assume they draw from one another.

All that being said, assuming your whatever case is sealed, then

Some records are sealed. In these kinds of cases, even information about the existence of the case is not publicly available. A person seeking access to a sealed record must petition the court for permission to unseal the records.

Rule 4-202.03 states that,

....no one may access a sealed court record except by order of the court. A judge may review a sealed record when the circumstances warrant.

From that I can assume that,

  • The records are not public.
  • The records will not show up in a routine check
  • The records will be known only if a there is a court order.

Comparing it with the Expungement Act,

Continued Use of Sealed Records After sealing, BCI continues to index and maintain all expunged records of arrests and convictions, but the records will not be released to the public. BCI will not divulge any information contained in the expunged records to any person or agency without a court order, unless authorized by statute to do so. Upon request, the following organizations may receive information contained in expunged records:

  • the Board of Pardons and Parole
  • Peace Officer Standards and Training
  • federal authorities, unless prohibited by federal law
  • the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing
  • and the State Office of Education

Both cases above require a court order to get that seal record information. However, from what I gather only expunged criminal records can be access upon request by the Division of Occupational Licences.

Bottom line, it sounds like you are safe to mark is no previous name, but you may lose your license in the future if something goes south. I will recommend you to get a professional look into the word of the law and provide you with a written statement of the actual law. Another thing you can try is write to the court who sealed your case, present them the situation and explain what you have found so far, and ask for guidance.

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I do not agree with a sealed record is not sealed from law enforcement.

Put simply, if a record is sealed it is sealed. Specifically, when a record is sealed a right to privacy attaches. See, Gonzalez v. Spencer, 336 F.3d 832 (9th Cir.), cert. denied 157 L.Ed.2d 253, 124 S.Ct. 334 (2003) (attorney and law firm liable for accessing sealed case file without court authorization) Thus, if a sealed name change is issued, law enforcement will not have records of it since the record is sealed. Only the Clerk of the Court has access to sealed records. See, Rule of Court, Rule 2.551 (f) Custody of sealed records:

Sealed records must be securely filed and kept separate from the public file in the case. If the sealed records are in electronic form, appropriate access controls must be established to ensure that only authorized persons may access the sealed records.

There is not a secret portal where police can rummage through sealed records, thus violating the expectation of privacy.

One common instance where a sealed name is disclosed is where the person changes his/her driver's license from the old name to the new name. That creates a data trail demonstrating who the person was and now is. DMV reports are sold to data brokers, accessible by insurance agents, claim adjusters, police, private investigators, and often anyone with a credit card. There are ways around obtaining a driver's license I will not discuss here, but they do exist and are legal.

Another way Government knows about your sealed name is by disclosing it to the SSA. However, local police do not have access to SSA records. The Privacy Act of 1974 (5 U.S.C. § 552a(b)(7)) permits, but does not require, a Federal agency to disclose personal information from its systems of records to another agency or to an instrumentality of any governmental jurisdiction within or under the control of the United States for a civil or criminal law enforcement activity if the activity is authorized by law, and if the head of the agency or instrumentality has made a written request to the agency which maintains the record specifying the particular portion desired and the law enforcement activity for which the record is sought. See SSA Policy here.

Yet, another way is when/if you fill out a form for virtually any government job, you must disclose any names you have gone by and attest to such under penalty of perjury. Depending on the job, you will undergo a polygraph too. Along with the application process is a waiver to access any all records.

Now, on the flip side, unless you demonstrate a risk of harm, your name change is likely a public record and prior to being allowed to change your name, you must announce to the world in a major newspaper for weeks. Only after showing proof of publication will allow you to change your name. Of course, there is no expectation of privacy in this instance.

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  • A way around obtaining a driver's License is to never do the prescribed driving license tests. You may not drive, but you might get a different ID document. – Trish Sep 10 at 19:15
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A sealed record is sealed in the publics eye but... I had a Federal Background check done and those records are not sealed from FBI, Law Enforcement, and Social Security. You need to report all former legal names and alias because unless you are wanted or have something to hide, those above agencies will not disclose the change to the public. My name was sealed for domestic violence and he can't GET the information. If you don't disclose and they find it your job is definitely over! Good luck!

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    A federal check is not the same as a state bureaucracy check. Anecdotes don't help when the question is about statutory or regulatory requirements. -1. – Nij May 26 '17 at 20:02

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