Any kind of court record on your background check report may raise eyebrows among employers or other individuals looking into your history, even if the records are nothing too serious. If you know that you have civil court records listed in your background history, you may wonder if there is any way to remove these records, leaving you with an easier hiring process and fewer questions about your history.
Our article discusses the main steps for removing civil court records and ensuring your background history and public internet records are accurate.
What Are Civil Court Records?
Civil court records are those that pertain to an individual’s disputes, claims, and judgments in civil court cases that have occurred on the county, state, and federal levels. The records of each civil case are typically maintained by the court overseeing the civil case. Therefore, you will need to contact the civil court clerk’s office where the civil case occurred to view these records.
Civil cases include lawsuits among individuals or corporations (legally, corporations are treated as individuals), such as negligence cases, breach of contract issues, family law like divorce and child custody cases, discrimination or unfair dismissal from work, and personal injury.
Civil courts do not handle criminal convictions and proceedings. These separate types of records appear on your background check report as ‘criminal records’ or ‘criminal convictions.’
How to Find Out if I Have Civil Court Records?
It’s common not to know if you have civil court records, but it’s important to find out, especially if you have an upcoming background check. One of the best ways to figure out if you have any civil (or even criminal) court records, pending or passed, is to run a public records search on yourself.
Public records searches pull up records from all publicly available databases and compile an easy-to-read report, including court records. Running a public records search on yourself is crucial because you can’t start the process of removing records that you’re unaware of.
Methods for Removing Civil Court Records
There are a few ways to remove civil court records from your public record. Read on to find out which method may work best for you.
Civil court records can be removed from your history through expungement. However, it’s important to note that state-specific regulations and procedures for expungement might vary, so you will need to research your state’s laws and consult with a legal professional for full details on this process.
Expungement is the main way to get your civil court records sealed and removed from public record. Once your records are expunged, they will no longer be accessible by the public or law enforcement, but they may be accessible by legal and court officials in certain special circumstances.
The process of expungement seems fairly simple:
- File a motion with the court or judge in the same location that oversaw your civil case (such as the specific county or state court). An attorney will likely be needed to navigate the process associated with this.
- Ensuring your civil court records are removed once the judge or court system grants an expungement of your records.
Legal help from an attorney is recommended as you navigate the expungement process. Whether or not expungement is granted depends on the nature of the civil case, any associated settlements or legal costs, the public’s potential need to access the records, and how long it has been since the case.
An attorney can help you discuss your chances of expungement being awarded and provide you with information specific to your state’s laws and individual civil court records.
After your civil court records have been successfully expunged, you may need to do some work to get them removed from the internet and other online sources. It can take a while for online public records and websites to update. Still, you can speed up this process by filing removal requests with Google and ensuring that courthouses or other local records offices have sealed these items to the public.
You may need to continue working with an attorney to get your civil court records completely sealed and out of the public eye both online and offline.
Are Juvenile Records Automatically Sealed?
For court records that occurred while the person was a juvenile, there is a strong chance that they will automatically be sealed upon the individual turning eighteen. However, this rule has some exceptions based on state-specific laws and the type of case.
You will most likely need to consult with an attorney to figure out if your juvenile records are eligible to be sealed upon turning eighteen or if there is anything else pertaining to your juvenile civil court record that can remove them from being available to the public.
Cleaning Up Your Background Information
As anyone with a criminal history or notable civil court records visible on their background check report knows, it’s highly beneficial to clean up your background report information as much as possible. While removing civil court records is a time-consuming and nerve-wracking process, it’s important to pursue it if you believe that there is a chance of success.
Additionally, make sure you keep tabs on your background check report and what is viewable as public record to ensure that employers and other individuals are seeing correct, up-to-date information about your history.