Do Expunged Records Show Up on an FBI Background Check?

The Federal Bureau of Investigations, or FBI, has the ability to run background checks on people – but what if your record has been expunged? Do expunged records show up on an FBI background check?

Here’s what you need to know.

Do Expunged Records Show Up on an FBI Background Check?

Expunged – at least in the state of Illinois – means completely erased (it’s different in other states, so unless you’re from Illinois, this may not apply to your situation). If your record has been expunged, that means it’s been destroyed or returned to you.

But what about the NCIC?

When the FBI wants to do a background check, it can use several sources to find its information. One of those sources is the National Crime Information Center, or NCIC.

In the state of Illinois, the order to expunge your records goes to the FBI. The FBI will remove your case information from its official files.

But if you’re from another state – or if you got a criminal record in another state but now live in Illinois, your records may be in the NCIC, which is a federal database containing crime information. In that case, the FBI may be able to see them during background checks. However, you need to know that the NCIC only receives and keeps records on certain groups of people, including:

  • Missing persons, which doesn’t apply to expungement
  • People who the Secret Service believes are a danger to the president of the U.S. or other protected individuals, which could apply if you were convicted of a crime related to threatening or harming one of these individuals
  • Members of violent gangs, which could apply to expungement
  • Members of terrorist organizations, which could apply to expungement
  • Unidentified persons, which doesn’t apply to expungement

Again, this doesn’t apply to people who have had Illinois criminal records expunged. The state of Illinois sends your expungement case to the arresting authority (the police department that arrested you), the state police and the FBI. Your expunged criminal records from Illinois will not show up in an FBI background check after the FBI has removed them from its database.

There is still hope, though. The NCIC is only for law enforcement use, which means most employers will never know what’s in it. If your employer uses an FBI background check, which you’ll usually know because you’ll be asked to submit your fingerprints or sign a permission form, it may be able to find out about an old record. Some organizations that use FBI background checks include the military and some healthcare or childcare professions.

Can You See Your Own NCIC Record?

You have the right to request a copy of your own NCIC record if you want to. You can typically ask your local police department to get a copy for you – local law enforcement agencies (including the police department, sheriff’s department and state police) all have access to it. You’ll have to show valid ID, and the police will use your fingerprints to find you in the system. They can print a copy of the report for you, but be aware that there may be a cost associated with it.

Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Illinois Expungement?

If you have a criminal past, we may be able to help you erase it. Not all cases qualify for expungement, but those that don’t may qualify for criminal record sealing. Call our office now  at 847-920-4540 to find out what we can do for you – or, if it’s easier, fill out the form below and we’ll get back to you.

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