Our law office helps clients with expungements all the time. In Oregon, a person who has been arrested or convicted of a crime can often get the arrest or conviction removed. Expungement in Oregon is governed by ORS 137.225. The procedure is officially known as a Motion to Set Aside. Once the expungement motion is granted, public agencies are required to seal the record, and the arrest or conviction is deemed never to have taken place.
Oregon's expungement law applies only to public agencies. One question we frequently get pertains to what people can do to make sure that the private background check companies erase expunged records from their databases.
We have found that, from time to time, the background check companies still show a person's conviction, and give that information to employers, rental companies, etc. This is a serious problem for clients who legally no longer have criminal convictions on their record.
So what can you do to make sure that background check companies do their job? The first thing to remember is that once a criminal record has been wiped clean, it will take approximately 60 to 90 days for the clearance to take effect in the private databases of these companies; it does not happen immediately. However, if more than 3 months has passed, and the conviction still shows up on a background check, there are some things you can do:
• If you are concerned that the conviction has not yet been taken off your record, you can do an internet background check on yourself to determine if it still shows up.
• You can call our office and we will be in direct contact on your behalf with the various companies that do background checks, telling them the conviction has been expunged and they need to immediately update their records. We will demand the company take action.
• You can write a letter firmly stating that your record has been expunged, and provide the companies with a copy of the order clearing your record. You can contact our office for help writing this letter, and we will give you tips and guidelines for getting results quickly and effectively.
Writing a letter not only puts the company on notice that their records are not up-to-date, but it also triggers federal law under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Under that Act, once a complaint (your letter) is filed, the company is required to investigate the situation and give a response within 30 days. This way, your criminal record is not hanging in the balance during months and months of investigation; the investigation must be complete within 1 month after notice is given by you or our office.
Getting a conviction off your record can sometimes be an uncertain and frustrating process. Fortunately, our office handles these problems all the time, and as stated above, there are steps you can take to make sure that the situation is resolved positively and efficiently for you.