Will a charge haunt me even if it has been expunged?

When you receive an expungement for an old criminal conviction or a charge that was later dropped, you may think that your record is clean and that the past charges won’t show up to complicate your life again. Unfortunately, this is not always true for you and other Missouri residents. In some cases, an expunged charge can pop up later and create problems.

You may have had a shoplifting conviction expunged, since it occurred while you were still in high school and doesn’t reflect your life now; or, you were arrested for drunk driving because you failed a field sobriety test, but you weren’t found guilty and you had the charge expunged from your record. This doesn’t mean your record is squeaky clean. According to the American Bar Association, expunged charges can permanently be on your record even if they don’t show up during a background check for most people.

This might not present a problem normally, but an expungement could be used as evidence in court if you are accused of a subsequent crime, especially if the prosecution is attempting to show a pattern of criminal behavior. Additionally, an expungement might not help if you are seeking a license or employment in certain areas where others might be at risk, such as working with children or in law enforcement. Your expunged record might also be used if you are facing deportation.

If previously expunged charges are used against you, it could compromise many areas of your life. Therefore, this information should not replace the advice of a lawyer.