In every state, as soon as the judge issues an order accepting the individual’s request for expungement or record sealing, it has to be conveyed to all relevant agencies and institutions so that they may destroy the individual’s criminal record in the case of expungement or delete them from any public database in the case of record sealing. However, there are over six hundred such private agencies and institutions and it becomes a tedious task, at times, to inform each agency individually. Even if one agency is left out, there is always the risk of the individual’s criminal record resurfacing when a potential employer or a potential landlord contacts the private company to conduct a background check on the individual.
In most states, the court does not inform the masses that a certain person’s criminal record has been expunged or sealed. This means that even if the individual’s application for expungement is accepted by the court and the judge has issued the relevant order, it is possible that a private company maintain a criminal history database may never receive this order.
It is precisely to address the aforementioned problem that the National Expungement Clearing House decided to form a partnership with the Foundation for Continuing Justice.
The purpose of the Foundation for Continuing Justice is to help people in informing these private agencies and institutions about the orders issued by the court (such as those that state that an individual’s criminal record needs to be modified, expunged, sealed or set aside). The Foundation for Continuing Justice provides this service free of cost.
The Workings of the Foundation for Continuing Justice
If an individual has had his or her criminal record modified or cleared in accordance with an order issued by the court, a certified copy of this court order can be sent by the individual to the Foundation for Continuing Justice. This also has to be accompanied by a form to request the update, which must be completed thoroughly by the individual. Once the Foundation for Continuing Justice has received the forms of the individual together with the supporting documents, an attorney will be appointed by the Foundation itself. The job of this attorney will be to verify whether the individual’s documents are authentic.
After the attorney has determined the authenticity of the individual’s documents, a person appointed by the Foundation for Continuing Justice is responsible for entering the information onto the Clearinghouse Database. All participating companies (that is, companies whose main job is to conduct background checks on people) are automatically notified as soon as any update has been made.
There are two main advantages of going through the Foundation for Continuing Justice and using this system instead of manually going to each individual company and requesting an update to be made. The first advantage is that the system used by the Foundation for Continuing Justice significantly saves the time that it would have otherwise taken these companies that are involved in carrying out background checks to update the records they maintain. The second advantage is that it also the lowers the risk of there being an inaccurate report in case any individual’s criminal record is modified or cleared.
In addition to this, there are also several other benefits of utilizing the service offered by the Foundation for Continuing Justice. First, the service is free. Unless an individual wants to speed up the process, he or she does not need to pay anything at all to avail the service being offered.
The second benefit is that by availing the service of the Foundation for Continuing Justice, a job seeker can realize the complete benefits that are provided to him or her through the legal process known as expungement. This means that all background checks can be carried out faster and they are also likely to be much more efficient. Furthermore, job applicants who qualify for a job are more likely to be able to secure meaningful jobs as the number of private companies with expunged records as part of their databases goes down.
Why Does An Individual Need To Go Through This Process?
If an individual’s application or petition for having his or her criminal record sealed or expunged has been accepted by the court and the judge has issued an order to that effect, then the individual can consider himself or herself has having won a major chunk of the battle. However, that is not where the story ends.
Even though an individual has gone through the legal procedure to have his or her criminal record modified, expunged or sealed, it is still possible that private companies that carry out background criminal checks on individuals on behalf of other agencies or institutions, such as potential landlords and employers, may still hold onto the individual’s criminal record.
For this purpose, it then becomes important for an individual to proactive and take measures to ensure that all such private companies have complied with the order issued by the court. If one does this actively through the Foundation for Continuing Justice, it can save a lot of time since these private companies can take a lot of time to update their records otherwise. For example, if a person is lucky, the private companies might update their records within a couple of months, but one should be completely prepared for this entire process to even take up to a couple of years. This process can also be carried out faster if a small fee is paid.
What does this mean for the individual?
Even if an individual contacts the Foundation for Continuing Justice and goes through the process of ensuring that the databases of private companies have been updated, it is very much possible that all private databases are not cleared. This is because most of these private companies that offer the service of conducting a background check on someone on behalf of another individual or agency are unlicensed.
This also leads to the next problem. If an agency or a company is not licensed, this means that there is no proper track or record of how many such companies exist. There may be a few, there may be a hundred – one can only guess.
At present, the Foundation for Continuing Justice has been working hard to ensure that data is sent to some of the most trusted and biggest companies. By doing this, the risk of a potential landlord, potential employer or any other interested party coming across an individual’s outdated record goes down. Years of experience and working in the field has made the Foundation for Continuing Justice realize that there is no other method that can help clear out a greater number of sources in a smaller amount of time.
How long can this process take?
In general, one can expect that the Foundation for Continuing Justice can take up to one month (or thirty days) to verify whether the documents provided by the individual are authentic or not and then to forward them to the private companies that are involved in carrying out background checks.
As mentioned earlier, this standard procedure is completely free and, therefore, affordable for the common man. However, if the individual is willing to pay an additional amount, the Foundation for Continuing Justice can also carry out the same process within seven days to fourteen days (that is, the amount of time it will take can go down from one months to two weeks or even one week in some cases). This would be ideal for those who are urgently seeking employment, want to run for public office or apply for a state license. The sooner they can ensure that all private companies have updated their records, the less likely it will be for another employer or agency to access their old criminal records.
At present, the Law Firm of Higbee and Associates is responsible for carrying out the expedition verification. An amount of $350 is currently being charged for the service of Expedited Record Clearance Update.
What if a Background Check Still Reveals Someone’s Criminal Record?
In light of the discussion in the section above, it is also possible that a certain private company’s database still holds the old record of the individual. If the individual has a certain company in mind, the Foundation for Continuing Justice suggests that he or she should wait until the Criminal Database Update has been carried out before contacting the agency with regards to his or her criminal record.
In most cases, the Criminal Database Update service is likely to reach the private agency. However, if that does not happen, any individual is free to refer to the sample of the dispute letter and the information guide (which can be found in the final packet) and use these to file a request with the relevant agency to update its records.
What kind of information does the Criminal Database Update request form require?
The Criminal Database Update request form can be found on the website of the Foundation for Continuing Justice. It requires the petitioner to provide details regarding his or her case in addition to personal information.
The personal information requires the individual to provide his or her name, date of birth, street address, city, state and zip code. He or she will also have to provide other contact information, such as phone number and email address. In addition to this, the individual will also be required to provide his or her driver’s license state or number.
The form also asks the individual to provide the name of offense for which he or she was charged and which has now been expunged from the criminal record. The date of conviction, code section, state and county in which he or she has been convicted also has to be provided, as well as the court and arresting agency that dealt with his or her case. The individual will also have to mention the name of the attorney and any aliases that he or she may have used.
By submitting the form to the Foundation for Continuing Justice, the individual authorizes the Foundation to provide all the case information to any criminal data information providers so that they may update their records in order to reflect the fact that the individual’s criminal record has been modified in any way or cleared. If an individual has been granted multiple orders, then he or she will have to submit a separate form for each individual order.
Projects of the Foundation for Continuing Justice
The Foundation for Continuing Justice is working on a number of projects, with the Criminal Record Clearinghouse being one of the most significant ones. This project deals with any problems that have to do with updating or clearing criminal records in the systems of private agencies. If a private agency does not update its records, it creates problems for both the court and the individual in question. As for the individual, he or she is unable to enjoy all the freedom and rights that record sealing or expunction can provide. In addition to this, it denies a society the right to avail the benefits provided by the low. Courts are also bogged down and any background checks being conducted prove to be less efficient.
Without the Clearinghouse, it is possible that the records of a former offender may stay in the database of private companies for years and years on end, even after the legal system or government has updated or cleared it. With the efforts of the Clearinghouse, the time can come down to a couple of months.
What is the benefit to the court?
The court also stands to gain from the work being done by the Clearinghouse. The overall workload that a court has goes down significantly, as the Clearinghouse helps in reducing recidivism. This is because the Clearinghouse assists former offenders in integrating into everyday life and society much more easily and swiftly.
Secondly, it also reduces the number of people who call up the court to find out why their criminal records are still available in the databases of private sectors even after they have had them sealed or expunged. Thus, the court has to deal with less such traffic and has more time to commit itself to other tasks.
How do background check companies gain from this?
Background check companies can obtain several benefits from the efforts of the Clearinghouse. First, their legal liability goes down under the federal law and state with regards to providing incorrect and outdated data. Secondly, it also lowers the liability of clients of these background check companies under the federal law and state about relying on incorrect or outdated data.
Thirdly, background check companies can also save a large amount of money because the number of problems or disputes that may arise if they provide outdate or incorrect data in their background investigations. They are assured of the fact that they are providing the most accurate data to their clients because a licensed attorney has verified any and every update. This attorney will also provide the background check companies with detailed instructions as to how to go about deleting or changing old data and records.
Background check companies also become much more efficient in their own projects and dealings. This is because they can update their databases faster and much more efficiently. They either receive update information on a weekly basis via email or through querying on the SQL database. Furthermore, the Foundation for Continuing Justice is a proper law firm that has to fiduciary duty towards such background check companies.
What Benefits Do Former Offenders Receive From This?
As mentioned above, a former offender can receive the complete benefits that they are entitled to once their criminal record has been modified or cleared by the curt because the Clearinghouse works hard to reduce the time it would take private databases to be updated. It also means that the risk of having irreversible prejudice being carried out against a former offender because of the distribution of incorrect and outdated data goes down.
The Clearinghouse provides background check companies with sufficient data that is needed to update or remove records. However, it does not reveal more than that is required. This means that no private database company can form a record on an individual if one does not exist initially. Furthermore, the identity of the client is also protected because of the attorney-client privilege.
How Can This Lead To Advantages For The Society?
Because the Clearinghouse works hard to reduce recidivism, the long-term costs that could arise because of the system of criminal justice go down. Furthermore, the society can also reap the policy benefits that stem from the clearing or expungement of criminal records.
Other Projects of the Foundation
In addition to the Clearinghouse, the Foundation for Continuing Justice is also working on a number of other projects. One such project is Pardon411.com. This web application can generate forms for petitioners free of cost. The website also contains all the information that an individual needs if he or she is applying for a pardon for each specific jurisdiction. In addition to this, it provides individuals with a platform where they can discuss their issue and ask any questions they may have. More than two hundred people have used the website since it was first launched.
ApplyForPardon.com is another project that was initiated by the Foundation for Continuing Justice. This is an online service that is provided free of cost to people who want to apply for a pardon. It has been designed with the help of licensed attorneys. If a person wants to apply to receive a pardon for a criminal offense, he or she can visit the website to receive guidance from experts in the field either completely free or at a very discounted rate. It also helps people in printing out professional applications to submit for the pardon process. The team of legal experts at ApplyForPardon.com can also assist people in filling out their pardon applications thoroughly and accurately.
Another project run by the Foundation for Continuing Justice is RecordClearing.org. This is an education website designed for consumers. The purpose of this website is to provide individuals with professional and legal advice at absolutely no charge. Not surprisingly, this has proven to be huge help to the hundreds and thousands of residents of the United States who have some sort of criminal record for offenses of felonies or misdemeanors.
RecordClearing.org provides the answers to most of the questions asked by individuals, such as how to get their criminal records cleared or how to find a job after they have been convicted of a criminal offense. The website is constantly updated with the latest information and legal advice from lawyers in the hope of meeting its ultimate goal, which is to assist individuals with criminal convictions to obtain the most from their lives.
Another goal of RecordClearing.org is to make sure that individuals with criminal convictions are not preyed upon by unscrupulous businesses and companies, who thrive on taking advantage of the desperation and hopes of such individuals by promising to get their criminal records cleared and failing to deliver. Many individuals have been victim to negligence and fraud at the hands of such companies who claim to be assisting them. RecordClearing.org aims to protect people from such unauthorized law practice.
Through this project, the Foundation for Continuing Justice hopes that individuals will become more aware of the ulterior motives of such unscrupulous agencies. The website provides detailed information about what a person should do in such a situation, how to go about reporting the actions to relevant consumer advocacy associations and state officials and what kind of lawsuits they can pursue.