After a record is expunged mustI disclose that I was ever charged/convicted?

I am 20 years old from NJ and attend school in RI. I was arrested and charged in RI. “Destruction of Complaint” is on my file for next year. What does this mean? And, if my record is expunged, will it not show up on a background check? What about when applying for an ivy league school? Can I also say “no” to being charged/convicted for a misdemeanor/crime/arrest. I feel as though Destruction of Complaint is expungement but I want to be sure. Also, What is the difference between seal and expunge?

Asked on September 22, 2010 under Criminal Law, Rhode Island


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

To "expunge" a record means to erase it, although truly it is never erased from certain eyes, such as the US government.  Sealed is just what it says: sealed which can be "unsealed" under certain circumstances.  But both "hide" the matter from a potential inquiry like an employer's background check.  Some states - such as New York - do not expunge conviction records.  They only seal them.  And in some states arrest records can be erased if there was no conviction following the arrest (dismissal or acquittal of an offense).  As for how RI classifies this matter I would consult with an attorney there to be sure.  And I would also run a background check on yourself to see what appears before and after you do whatever you need to to remove the matter from public view.  Good luck.

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