Do expunged records show up on background checks? | One Source

Sealing criminal records can be a relief for many individuals. It offers a chance to move forward without the burden of past mistakes. However, a significant concern remains: can sealed records still appear in online searches? This question is crucial for those looking to fully restore their reputation and privacy.

Understanding Sealed Records

When a criminal record is sealed, it means that the record is hidden from public view. Courts and law enforcement agencies still have access, but the general public, including employers and landlords, cannot see the details. This process differs from expungement, where records are completely erased. Understanding how to delete a criminal record can provide clarity on the best options for protecting your privacy.

Legal Protections

Sealing a record provides legal protections. Employers, landlords, and others conducting background checks typically cannot see sealed records. This protection aims to give individuals a fresh start. According to the National Institute of Justice, sealing records can improve employment prospects and housing stability.


Despite these protections, sealed records may still be accessible in certain situations. For example, some professional licensing boards and government agencies can access sealed records. Additionally, if the record was already widely disseminated before sealing, copies may still exist in various places online.

Online Presence of Sealed Records

One of the significant challenges with sealed records is their online presence. The internet has a long memory, and information can persist even after being officially sealed.

Search Engines

Search engines like Google index vast amounts of information. If your criminal record was public before sealing, it might still appear in search results. Understanding how to delete a criminal record from search engine results is essential. While search engines periodically update their indexes, old information can sometimes linger.

Third-Party Websites

Third-party websites that aggregate public records pose another challenge. These sites may have copied your criminal record before it was sealed. Removing this information requires contacting each website individually, which can be time-consuming and not always successful.

Social Media and News Articles

If your criminal record was discussed in news articles or shared on social media, it might still be accessible. News websites and social media platforms often have their own policies regarding content removal, and they may not honor requests to remove information related to criminal records.

Steps to Protect Your Online Privacy

While sealing your record is a critical step, additional actions can help ensure your past does not haunt you online.

Requesting Content Removal

Contact websites that host your criminal record and request its removal. Many sites have procedures for this, though success can vary. Be persistent and follow up if you do not receive a response.

Using Search Engine Tools

Google and other search engines offer tools to request the removal of outdated or incorrect information. These tools can help reduce the visibility of your criminal record in search results.

Monitoring Your Online Presence

Regularly monitor your online presence. Set up Google Alerts for your name to be notified when new information appears. This can help you stay on top of what is available about you online and take action quickly.

Legal Remedies

If your sealed record continues to appear online despite your efforts, legal remedies may be available.

Consulting an Attorney

An attorney specializing in privacy or defamation law can provide advice and assistance. They can help you understand your rights and the best course of action for removing persistent online information.

Cease and Desist Letters

In some cases, a cease and desist letter can be effective. This letter, typically written by an attorney, demands that the offending party stop sharing or displaying your sealed record. While not always successful, it can be a powerful tool.


As a last resort, you may consider legal action against websites or individuals who refuse to remove your sealed record. This option can be costly and time-consuming, so weigh the potential benefits against the drawbacks.

Preventive Measures

Taking preventive measures can help protect your privacy even before sealing your record.

Limiting Information Sharing

Be cautious about sharing personal information online. Adjust privacy settings on social media to restrict who can see your posts. Avoid discussing your criminal record publicly, as this can make it easier for others to find and share.

Reputation Management Services

Consider using reputation management services to help clean up your online presence. These services can assist with removing negative information and promoting positive content. They can be particularly useful if you have difficulty managing your online reputation on your own.

Building a Positive Online Presence

Proactively building a positive online presence can help overshadow past mistakes. Create professional profiles, engage in community activities, and share positive achievements. This strategy can help mitigate the impact of any lingering negative information.


Sealing a criminal record provides significant legal protections, but it does not guarantee complete privacy. Sealed records can still appear in online searches due to search engine indexing, third-party websites, and social media. Understanding how to delete a criminal record from various online sources is crucial.

Taking proactive steps, such as requesting content removal, using search engine tools, and consulting an attorney, can help protect your privacy. Additionally, preventive measures like limiting information sharing and building a positive online presence are essential.

Ultimately, while it is challenging to erase all traces of a sealed record from the internet, a combination of legal, technical, and personal strategies can significantly improve your online privacy and reputation.