The online digital age has made it more difficult for people to hide from their criminal and arrest records.
More and more courts are putting people’s criminal and civil records online. In addition, third-party background check sites are collecting these records and making them easy and inexpensive to search for online.
Thanks to the internet and public record searches, potential employers, landlords, colleges or even your next door neighbor can play armchair investigator and find your past mistakes with the click of a mouse.
Around 25% of people in the U.S. have some type of criminal record and around 9 percent have at least one felony conviction in their past.
The most long-lasting punishment for a crime today can be the record itself.
Today, any type of criminal record can be the worst problem with your public identity.
James Jacobs, author of The Eternal Criminal Record, is one of a growing number of legal professionals who claim that it is time to reduce the long shadow that these records can cast over the lives of people.
Criminal records now follow people long after their release from prison and even follow people with minor infractions who never served time in prison.
Even people who were arrested for a crime but never convicted are haunted by these records.
The openness of public records and the ease of online access to them in the U.S. can make it impossible to escape any sort of past criminal record.
A 2012 survey by the Society of Human Resource Management showed that 69 percent of employers say they run criminal background checks on every job candidate.
Recently, a number of states like New Jersey and Georgia have enacted laws to help minimize the damage of these records on a person’s employment prospects.
In addition, a number of legal organizations and some law firms have started programs that help eligible people with the expungement process to clear their past criminal records from the public record.