A friend of mine (yes, I'm aware of how that sounds, but it's true) had a felony expunged from his record 10 years ago. Recently when getting screened for a job it showed up and now his job is at risk. How is this possible?

And are there any legal actions that can be taken to prevent it from happening again?

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    What sort of job, with who (government or non-government), and where? Expungements don't hide your record in all cases; for instance, if you need a security clearance, that trumps expungement. – cpast Jun 30 '15 at 23:14
  • @cpast thanks for the response. Its for a non-profit program but goes through the DOE. I thought that it meant that the record was erased in the eyes of the law? – Christina Rule Jul 1 '15 at 3:22
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    DOE meaning what? (there are 2 federal departments with that abbreviation: Energy and Education). In what state? Also, no, it's not necessarily erased. In many states, expungement just means that most people can't see it; people who have sufficient need to know can still see it. – cpast Jul 1 '15 at 3:51
  • @cpast education. New York. – Christina Rule Jul 1 '15 at 14:26
  • Was the conviction in New York? Because from what I can find, NY state felonies could only be sealed starting in 2009. – cpast Jul 1 '15 at 16:25

Expungement rules and effects vary greatly by state. Good reading on the question can be had here, with notable exceptions to expungement here. Of particular relevance to this question:

In some states, individuals who want to work as public school teachers, corrections guards, or police officers should expect that their employers will have access to expunged records. Agencies reviewing applications for professional licenses, including law, pharmacy, or medicine, may also have access.

Even in the most favorable circumstances an expungement can't destroy or seal non-government records. For example, if a newspaper reported on a charge or conviction there is no way to eliminate that public record.

The mechanics of expungement can also break down. For example, in Pennsylvania it's up to the applicant for expungement to list all the government agencies and entities on which the Order for Expungement should be served. If they forget or aren't aware of some agency that has records covered by the expungement then those records won't be destroyed. (Though if they are later discovered the Order can be served on them and they are still required to comply.)

  • thanks so much for taking the time to respond. The arrest took place in CA. So it is possible to "hide" the records from certain agency's as long as the applicant lists them? It's just really eyeopening to me that even if someone has served their time and paid all their fines their past still can haunt them. Seems a little unjust. – Christina Rule Jul 2 '15 at 15:52
  • @ChristinaRule I'm not familiar with administrative law in CA. But in general I agree that the "justice system" we have is an often unfair and arbitrary tool when one begins to compare individual cases. – feetwet Jul 2 '15 at 16:42
  • do you have any suggestions as what I could recommend to him moving forward? Are there any further measure that can be taken? – Christina Rule Jul 2 '15 at 21:10
  • @ChristinaRule: There are always legal measures that can be taken. But what they are, and whether they should be taken, are a matter of legal advice, which nobody here can dispense. To get an idea of what options are available in CA I would peruse the associated link in my answer. – feetwet Jul 2 '15 at 21:18

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