What is the difference between an expungement and a charge that was dismissed after a fine and/or probation completion?

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What is the difference between an expungement and a charge that was dismissed after a fine and/or probation completion?

I conducted a background search on myself, and my record is blank. When I attempted to drive to Canada, I was help up by customs; they showed that I have an assault charge 5 years ago. I detailed what the issue was (disorderly conduct), but that the charge was dropped upon completion of 3 months of probation and a small fine. Canadian customs turned me away. What is the difference between an expungement and a charge that was dismissed after a fine and/or probation completion? If a charge was dismissed, will it appear on my public record or in background search results conducted by international customs agencies?

Asked on December 2, 2014 under Criminal Law, Michigan

Answers:

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

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

The charge was dismissed but did the arrest record show up and prompt the stop? That may be the sticking point.  The arrest and the result are two different matters that can show up on a background check. You are likely entitled to an expungement of the arrest record (did you get you fingerprint cards back?) so I would look in to it as soon as possible. Canadian customs took the approach that even though dismissed - which happens a lot here with plea bargains - the charges were probably valid so then yes, it could be a problem unless all records are expunged.  


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