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What will show up on a fingerprint background check? I have been arrested but charges were dismissed or nollied each time.

Ellington, CT |

I am a student seeking a license to teach in the public schools. I got into trouble as a teen and was charged on a few occasions with disorderly conduct in juvenile court. These charges never resulted in conviction. All were nollied. At 27, I was charged with disorderly conduct following an incident with my ex-husband during our divorce. While the court case was ongoing, I was subject to a protective order. Those charges were later dismissed, and the protective order was removed. As a requirement for entry into the teaching program at my university, I have been instructed to disclose any arrests on my record. What will my school see in my fingerprint background check? Are there steps I can take to improve my record considering I have no convictions?

Attorney Answers 2


The first step is to request your criminal history record from the FBI. When cases are nollied, the record of the arrest is destroyed. If the arrest does not appear on the FBI check, you would not have to disclose it, as no record of it exists.

I have helped clients do this in the past. You can expect a 2 week turn around time from the feds.

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I agree with Atty Silva that the arrest records can be expunged if there are no convictions. Also, if there are convictions, there is a process for pardons and erasure of records.

But, make sure that the question asks for arrests OR convictions. The two are completely different. If you are asked for convictions, if every charge was nollied or dismissed, then you can can state no convictions with confidence. If the question asks for "arrests", I recommend being careful and artful with the answer.

I would want to see the actual question to see exactly what is asked. Also, whether the answers are given under oath or some other certification that the answers are true and accurate. Although there may be no convictions, I would be cautious about a blanket statement that there have been no arrests. You have, in fact, been arrested, even though there are no convictions. If you give false answers on the application, that may have detrimental effects on employment down the road.

Look at the question very carefully and know specifically what is being asked. There may be a way to artfully dodge the answer.

Brian S. Karpe, Esq. (860) 242-2221 Note: This response DOES NOT constitute legal advice and therefore no specific action should be taken in reliance thereon. No attorney-client relationship is created through this response. You should speak to an licensed attorney in your state who is competent to answer your question before taking any action with regard to this question.

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Would I have to initiate the expungement process, or are arrest records typically destroyed following a case dismissal or nolle? Would expunged records still show on a federal fingerprint background check?

Brian S Karpe

Brian S Karpe


You should not have to initiate the expunging, however, the reality is that you will have to keep on top of it and push for the records to be destroyed. Often expunging records is a low priority for the various authorities. As Atty Silva states, you first have to obtain an FBI check to see what is on the record. Take it from there.

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