Are you presumed guilty even when proven innocent?
If you are arrested for a crime you didn’t commit, you may have your
record erased or “expunged” if you are exonerated. Or so you
would think. Unfortunately, it isn’t that easy or that absolute.
The truth is, there are many exceptions and limitations to when you can
have an arrest expunged. Even if it is expunged, an arrest or charge may
still haunt you forever.
If you’ve ever been adjudicated guilty of an unrelated crime, you
can’t expunge a case even if you are exonerated. Why should an unrelated
arrest for which you took responsibility and paid the penalty preclude
you from erasing one for which you are not guilty?
If you’ve ever expunged a case, you can’t do it again. I guess
the law presumes that the unfortunate person who gets accused and exonerated
more than once must have done something wrong.
Even if despite all of these barriers you do have your false allegation
actually expunged – surprise! It doesn’t disappear. There
are certain circumstances for which you are still required by law to disclose
a criminal charge, even if you were exonerated and had the record expunged.
Immigration and education are two areas in which you might be compelled
to disclose an expunged arrest.
The other factor that has made expunction of a record practically useless
is the Internet. Many companies collect arrest information and post it
on-line, along with mug shots. While your case is pending before you are
exonerated of the crime and have it expunged, the information remains
easily viewed on-line for months or years before the case is expunged
– and even then it is virtually impossible to have this information
It is simply not fair that if you suffer the horror and injustice of being
accused of a crime that you didn’t commit, you can’t get your
name cleared even after you have been exonerated. Being accused of a crime
that you didn’t commit is horrible. You are arrested, shamed, and
your family suffers. You risk being imprisoned and being labeled a criminal
for the rest of your life. There are not many things that can happen to
you that are worse than being accused of a serious crime that you didn’t commit.
There are real-life tragic examples of the unfairness that can result when
an innocent person is arrested for a crime he didn’t commit. Worse
yet, the injustice of such an arrest is compounded by the fact that even
once the innocent victim of the wrongful allegation is exonerated, it
is virtually impossible to clear his record.
One such tragedy occurred when a highly regarded school teacher was accused
of sexually molesting a young student. The teacher was arrested and shamed
in media reports and on-line, causing him to lose his job, his career
and his reputation. The alleged victim of the purported crime later confessed
to being prompted by her parents to fabricate the allegation against the
teacher as retribution for the teacher having reported evidence of illegal
drugs in the parents home, as required by law. The charges against the
teacher were dropped. But his life was forever altered. His exoneration
was not reported in the media or on-line. He did not get his job or his
reputation back. He wasn’t even given so much as an apology.
Another example is that of a church Pastor who was accused of molesting
a young boy. He was arrested and shamed in the media and on-line. The
police proudly crowed that they had arrested him in a press conference.
Worse yet, the police then charged him with Fraud when a person claimed
the disgraced Pastor used her personal information to obtain credit without
her permission – all because she panicked when she heard he was
arrested. All of the allegations have since been proven false. All charges
were dropped. However, the Pastor will always be tarnished by the allegation.
Although the boy who falsely accused him, and the woman who panicked and
tried to get out of her credit obligation by claiming she wasn’t
aware of the contract she had secured on behalf of the church both have
apologized, the police have yet to apologize for going to the press and
irresponsibly assuming his guilt.
In response to these and countless other similar injustices, Longwell Lawyers
is seeking to enact a law that will allow any innocent citizen who is
wrongly accused and exonerated to have the case automatically expunged.
Furthermore, any person or company who continues to disseminate information
about the case 30 days after it has been expunged, will be civilly liable
for damages and attorneys fees for enforcing compliance. There is no good
reason not to have such a law. If you believe in justice, freedom and
liberty, as defined by our constitution, and the rights we all enjoy that
presume our innocence, then please support our proposed law, called the
Innocent Citizen’s Protection Act. Please show your support of this
proposed new law by
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