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Do You Shudder at the Sound of a Background Check?

Maybe you can relate to the shudder some people feel when they hear that a prospective employer, creditor, landlord or educator will perform a “background check.”

“We’ll get back to you,” they often announce with good cheer. But cheery is the last way you would describe the feeling that is washing over you, especially when you realize that a harsh adjective – “criminal” – is stationed in front of the task at hand.

Perfunctory or not, a criminal background check can strike real fear in the hearts and minds of people who have had an unfortunate brush with the law – and worry greatly that the event will dash their hopes of landing a job, getting a loan, being approved for a lease or gaining access to a college or trade school.

Further, the sad fact is that third parties often use the findings of a criminal background check in ways that they don’t always admit. It’s not that their intentions are devious; they just wish to avoid an awkward conversation or, worse, a confrontation. For example, it can be easier for a prospective employer to say, “We found someone better qualified for this position” than to admit, “Your background check uncovered an uncomfortable truth about you that we’d rather not deal with.”

Rather than feel disheartened and discouraged – as though your brush with the law has “marked” you for life – rid yourself of the stress and anxiety of a criminal background check once and for all by having your record sealed or expunged.

Difference in terms and meanings

Laymen may use the words interchangeably, but they mean quite different things in legal circles. “When a criminal history record is sealed, the public will not have access to it,” according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. In other words, the record is literally sealed from public view so that people wishing to expose it cannot do so.

An expungement goes a step further: “When a record has been expunged, those entities which would have access to a sealed record will be informed that the subject of the record has had a record expunged, but would not have access to the record itself without a court order,” says the department. “All they would receive is a caveat statement indicating that ‘criminal information has been expunged from this record.’”

In layman’s terms, expungement is viewed as “wiping the slate clean.” It also allows people who once were denied professional licenses – including medical, nursing, contracting and real estate licenses – to apply for them through the state, without fear of reprisal for past legal misconduct.

Reach out to Attorney Kate Mesic

Certain terms, conditions and eligibility requirements exist for both sealing and expunging a criminal record, and attorney Kate Mesic can help you navigate all of them with the confidentiality, compassion and skill on which she has staked her reputation.

Mrs. Mesic received her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Florida, Levin College of Law, in 2007 and was admitted to the Florida Bar the same year. She began her legal career in Ocala, Florida, as an assistant state’s attorney for the Fifth Judicial Circuit and now devotes much of her professional time to helping people gain a new lease on life by sealing or expunging a record from their past.

For most people, it can be a liberating and exhilarating process. It’s a genuine confidence builder, too, beginning with the first time someone announces they must “do a background check” and you realize: there is nothing to fear, nothing to dread and, most importantly, nothing to expose.