Legal Question in Criminal Law in California

Criminal Records


Got arrested in the 90s, jailed for 2 days, case was dropped and never went to trial. In the process of going to change status(apply for PR), concerned that this record will pop up during FBI background check.


1) Since all charges were dropped, will my arrest record and fingerprints still remain in the database?

2) When the police finger printed me in the 90s, where would this record be stored? Will the FBI still have access to it?

3) Will it help if I get the record expunged? Will my fingerprint record be removed too?

Appreciate any comment. Thank you.

Asked on 6/21/09, 2:33 am

5 Answers from Attorneys

Edward Hoffman Law Offices of Edward A. Hoffman

Re: Criminal Records

Your arrest and fingerprint records are almost certainly still on file. The agency that arrested you should still have them. If it does, it has shared your fingerprints with the FBI. You should expect all this information to come up if the FBI does a background check.

These records cannot be expunged. Expungement is only available for convictions. But arrest records (including fingerprints) are generally not available to the public. An arrest means only that you were accused of a crime, not that you committed one. The government agencies that have access to arrest records understand this distinction.

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Answered on 6/21/09, 3:42 pm
Brian McGinity McGinity Law Office

Re: Criminal Records

First things first. You need to seek out the advice of an immigration attorney immediately. They deal with these issues from an immigration stand point every day.

Next, since your finger prints were taken by a law enforcement agency they are probably still on file with that agency. Also that agency probably sent the federal agencies your finger prints as well.

In order to expunge a record one must have something to expunge and if the case was dropped as you stated there should be nothing to expunge. However, if you accepted a plea bargain in exchange to walk then you may have something to expunge but under the facts you have presented I do not think there is anything to expunge.

You need to be completely candid with the information on your application and explain it all very carefully and with detail. However, before you do anything see an immigration attorney. It will be worth the small fee you pay. Good luck

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Answered on 6/21/09, 11:26 pm
Michael Stone Law Offices of Michael B. Stone Toll Free 1-855-USE-MIKE

Re: Criminal Records

Somewhere in Washington, D.C. there is a study in black and white of your fingerprints.

And the FBI still has a record of your arrest.

There is nothing to expunge. But I doubt anything will come of this. I would not worry.

Just fill out the form truthfully and hope for the best.

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Answered on 6/21/09, 2:39 am
Scott K. Zimmerman Law Office of Scott K. Zimmerman

Re: Criminal Records

Where were you arrested? And what were the charges when arrested?

Felony? Misdemeanor? Infraction?

Tough to respond without more information.

Generally, most if not all goverment agencies who take fingerprints now eventually forward same to their state agencies, who in turn share the information with the federal goverment agencies.

The type of crime will certainly determine the probability of the fingerprints having been retained.

However,under the current political climate, I would certainly err on the side of caution and disclose everything, even this event.

Before you determine how to proceed PLEASE SEEK THE ADVISE OF AN IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY, and not just a criminal attorney. The politics and presentation in immigration matters are everything I am told.

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Answered on 6/21/09, 2:55 am
Terry A. Nelson Nelson & Lawless

Re: Criminal Records

Of course they will show in background check. Records are forever. If your circumstances qualify, you could file a motion with that court seeking a determination of 'factual innocence' that could be added to your database record. No guarantee of success, and somewhat expensive, but if you're serious about doing so, and if the case is in SoCal, feel free to contact me.

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Answered on 6/22/09, 2:29 pm

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