Do Expunged Records Show Up on Fingerprinting?
A criminal record can follow you for life, interrupting your chances for employment, housing, and more. Expungement can erase that public record and give you a chance to start over – right? But what if you have to take a fingerprint background check, or you’re arrested and processed? Will your expunged record show up? Let’s dive right in so you can get some answers.
Do Expunged Records Show Up on Fingerprinting?
The answer is, it depends. Expungement is regulated by state law, not federal. When you receive an expungement, your case is removed from state systems – in Oklahoma, that means it’s removed from the Oklahoma State Courts Network (OSCN). Anyone searching for you through that network, including arresting officers and district attorneys, won’t see your expunged case.
If you’re arrested, the state might also submit your information for entry into the federal database: the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) run by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Expungement does not remove your case from this federal database. That means anyone who is able to run your fingerprints through the NCIC database could still find your expunged criminal record.
States are not required to send criminal records to the federal database, so it’s possible your case and fingerprints aren’t on file there. For a fee, you can request an Identity History Summary Check from the FBI, and they’ll send you your “rap sheet,” if they have one on you.
Will My Fingerprints Still Be on File?
Yes – your fingerprints will still be on file at both the state and federal levels. That’s because fingerprints are physical records, and expungements do not destroy them. At the state level, your fingerprints won’t be connected to your expunged case, but they could still be used to identify you.
When Would I Need to Be Fingerprinted?
Those wondering if expunged records show up on fingerprinting usually have one of two scenarios in mind: criminal arrest or fingerprint background checks. If you’re arrested for a crime, law enforcement agencies like DAs’ offices and police departments can run your fingerprints through the federal database and find your expunged case, as well as any other convictions. Whether or not they’ll do this – and whether they’ll use what they find to enhance your punishment – depends on your crime and county.
The other scenario where you’d need to be fingerprinted is for a background check. This involves comparing your fingerprints against the federal database. Let’s make sense of it all by going over some examples of background checks.
Applying for a job is one of the biggest areas where a conviction can come back to haunt you. Most employers use name-based backgrounds that are run through private companies. They scan public records and state-level databases to provide information on your criminal history, employment history, driving record, and even your credit history. For the vast majority of jobs, you don’t have to tell your employer about your expunged case, and they won’t be able to find it.
Expunged records show up on fingerprinting background checks, however, because they’ll be run through the federal database. The good news is that not every employer will give you a fingerprint background check. It’s regulated by law, and typically only federal employers and workplaces that allow access to vulnerable populations, like children and the elderly, are required to run fingerprint background checks.
Security clearance means you have access to certain things that others don’t. Federal agencies like the FBI and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) often come to mind here: They have three levels of security clearance – confidential, secret, and top secret – that determine what information an individual can have access to. If for some reason you needed FBI or CIA security clearance, your expunged record would show up on fingerprinting.
A more common scenario is if you wanted to get cleared for TSA PreCheck, the Transportation Security Administration’s program that gets you through airport security faster. The application process for TSA PreCheck does require running your fingerprints through the federal database. Your expunged crime may show up, but it doesn’t necessarily disqualify you. While crimes like terrorism, murder, espionage, and those involving explosives permanently disqualify you, convictions for extortion, arson, kidnapping, robbery, voluntary manslaughter, and some drug crimes only disqualify you for seven years after conviction. Other crimes may not disqualify you at all.
Gun rights are a hot topic, and “Do expunged records show up on fingerprinting background checks for firearm purchases?” is a common question in Oklahoma. The answer is that the Brady Act, which is the federal law that requires background checks if you’re buying from a federally licensed seller, doesn’t require fingerprinting.
The seller will usually have you fill out a form on a computer and complete the background check within minutes. However, your name and identifying information will be run through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which includes the NCIC database, so your expunged crime could still show up. Under federal law, you won’t be able to buy a gun if you were convicted of a felony or certain types of domestic violence.
Some states also have gun licensing and background check requirements that require fingerprinting, but Oklahoma is not one of them. If you’re over 21, you don’t need a license to own or carry a firearm in Oklahoma.
The Bottom Line
If you’re wondering if expunged records show up on fingerprinting, the best thing to do is to check if your criminal record is in the NCIC database. If it is, your expunged crime could still show up on a fingerprint background check, because those are run through that federal database.
There are still plenty of benefits to a full expungement: Your arrest and conviction will be erased from state databases, and you can legally deny the crime to employers, landlords, and anyone else who asks. Ultimately, an expungement can change your life for the better, even if it stays in federal databases. Contact the Tulsa Expungement Guy today to get started.