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What Can I Do If I Am Unable To Have My Record Expunged?

Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is an unedited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.

This question used to not exist at all back in the day before the internet that was never even an issue. In today’s always connected world, it’s an ever present issue. The one thing that someone can do if they have unexpungeable criminal history and it cannot be digitally erased is to do everything possible to keep it out of the public domain and limit its spread. One way to do that is some companies like erasemugshots.com will simply bury it in the search results. You don’t want to be in a situation where you’re a low profile person, you don’t make ways but you’re arrested at some point, charged with a crime; because of the type of crime, it can’t be expunged and so when someone sticks your name into a search engine, the only thing that shows up is your criminal history because you led such a low profile life, just a quiet person, well, that’s problematic.

It can affect everything from who will go out and date you to whether or not you get a job. Technically, employers are not supposed to be doing background checks by sticking people’s names into a search engine but the reality is, we don’t know what people do, we’re not watching them or recording them. So that being the case, what someone can do is they can have the internet results buried and there are companies that do this like erasemugshots.com and they essentially take your name and they add all kinds of other stuff on top of it and make it search engine relevant. In other words, think of it as search engine optimization to get rid of negative information so when someone sticks your name into a search engine, you want to have hundreds and hundreds of results pop up that basically bury this negative information.

People can still find it but the companies who handle this type of reputation management, they are very skilled with knowing what phrases people might type, will type, have typed, could type in the future and so they coordinate with you to arrange to have things put on the internet in such a manner to where when your name is put in that these negative results, they’re still there but they’re hard to find. That is just as important as having a record sealed and an expunction even if you can’t get a record sealed, even if you can’t get a record expunction, burying this digital information is critical. Finally, what else can you do? If you had a seriously deficient performance by a legal counsel, you can file what’s known as a rule 3.850 ineffective assistance of counsel motion. Statistically, the odds of this being granted after spending a whole bunch of money far in excess at the cost of digital burying of negative internet information, most of these are not granted. We are talking about less than 1%.

An ineffective assistance of counsel remedy is an unrealistic remedy for most people because the system is set up so that all pleas are taken willingly, voluntarily and knowingly and that counsel’s performance is ruled on the spot to be sufficient. So it’s very hard to get those granted but in contrast, getting digital burial of negative information, that’s much easier.

What Does My Record Look Like After It Has Been Successfully Expunged?

Ideally, if your record is successfully expunged or sealed and digital erasure has occurred concurrently, then nothing should show up except things that you would normally find when doing a search. If you’re a professional, say a real estate agent or a broker, then all the stuff that normally would be on the internet about you as a realtor or a broker will still be there. Those are the kind of results that you want. If expunction, sealing and digital eraser are done correctly, then those are the only things that should show up. Sometimes, it’s worth it depending upon the profile level of the case to hire a company on an ongoing basis to make sure that things don’t pop up.

You don’t want to be in a scenario where you think it’s all gone and then all of a sudden, somebody does the search and boom, something pops up because somebody who doesn’t like you posted something on flattering referencing the criminal episode, which was expunged or sealed. Sometimes, depending on circumstances, it’s a good idea to have someone monitoring your reputation. However, for most people, that’s not a concern. I would say well over 90% of the time, that’s not an issue.

Why Should I Hire An Experienced Attorney To Handle An Expungement Case?

There are a lot of things in life that you can do on your own. The internet has really democratized information especially information technology to make it possible to do things on our own. But there are some things you just don’t do on your own. For example, pretty much anybody in today’s world can build their own website if they invest a little bit of time and they get on a platform like WordPress, which basically is what you see is what you get. When you have what you see is what you get, you can make a website if you know how to type and take pictures and upload. Those are the only skills that are required. If this is for your business and you are using a business website, you are going to need search engine marketing, you’re going to need a social media presence, you’re going to need tracking, you’re going to need search engine optimization, you are going to need backlinks.

Suddenly, something you could do by yourself throw up a website now has all of these requirements in order to be effective. If anyone of them is not done correctly, then your business website might as well be a billboard sitting in the middle of a forest. Nobody is going to see it. When it comes to record sealing and record expunction, this is not something you do every day. Whereas for an experienced criminal defense lawyer, it’s something that we do routinely. In fact, some of us have done this so many times, we can probably do it in our sleep. It doesn’t mean we should do it in our sleep, absolutely should not; should give the highest level of attention and detail, but the reality is when one is familiar with the task one has done multiple times and something changes in the workflow or have requirements of that particular task, the person who is intimately familiar with that type of work is going to know instantly.

To give another example, my car goes to the shop. There are mechanics who can listen to my car and they can say, “Whoa, do you hear that”, and if I’m not experienced with vehicles, I’m going to go, “Hear what”. That person might say, “ That sound means this, so we need to hook it up to the computer”, or, “We need to do this other thing”. It’s because they have this level of experience that they instantly know what the problem was whereas if I were trying to figure out what was going on with my car based upon the tools I have at the house and my ability to ask Google questions or ask theory questions, I would probably be there for days not able to fix a relatively minor problem; so is true with the person trying to expunge or seal their record. They run the risk of doing it incorrectly and being denied for a certificate of eligibility.

For example. If the Florida Department of Law Enforcement looks at your paperwork and denies your certificate of eligibility, it’s going to cause some problems. If they deny it once and then later on, you try and fix it on your own and they deny it a second time, the third time you could get it entirely correct and it’s like “Oh, it’s that guy”, and it doesn’t get done correctly. So record sealing and record expunging while a low cost things I have done for a consumer of legal services is something that nevertheless must be done entirely correctly. When you go to your doctor, it’s not nearly as expensive as having back surgery or heart surgery done but it’s critically important when you go to that doctor that they know how to do things correctly so that your medical condition can be treated properly and you may end up avoiding back surgery or avoiding heart surgery because that physician did what to them was a minor task but for you and in terms of your life, has a major impact.

Record sealing and record expunction have a major impact on everything from employment to relationships. So, having it done correctly is worth a few hundred dollars invested to have a professional do it right the first time.

Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is an unedited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.

For more information on Inability To Have A Record Expunged, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (850) 466-1522 today.