Can I answer “no” on a application for teacher certification for being arrested for a DUI since my case was expunged?

UPDATED: Oct 10, 2011

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Can I answer “no” on a application for teacher certification for being arrested for a DUI since my case was expunged?

I currently live and was charged in PA but am applying for certification in WA state. The DUI occurred over 4 years ago. My record was expunged about 1 1/2 years ago. The application question reads: In the last 10 years, have you ever been arrested for any crime or violation of the law? (Note: For “yes” responses, even if your case was dismissed or your record was sealed you must answer this question in the affirmative.) Why would I have to answer yes to this question if the record in question is no longer on file?

Asked on October 10, 2011 under Criminal Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The reason you *should* answer yes is that expungement is not the same as never having done something in the first place. Expungement removes the record of the conviction from most (but not all; e.g., law enforcement can still access the record under some circumstances) records, but it does not "undo" the original act. You can liken expungement to having deleted a document from your computer--it makes the document mostly inaccessible (though it can still be accessed under some circumstances, such as with the right tools), but does not mean that you never wrote that document.

Therefore, if asked about whether you were ever arrested, the answer is "yes"--you were. The arrest might not come up on a background check--therefore there might be no way to verify your answer, unless someone in the know mentions what happened, there's an old newspaper blurb about the arrest which can be "google searched" on the web, etc.--but the arrest still did happen.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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