How a Single Arrest Could Mark You for Life
Whether you were charged or not
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Aug 19, 2014 10:58 AM CDT
Arrest records can cause problems far down the line--even without a conviction.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Whether you were charged with a crime or not, an arrest at a young age could haunt you for life. And that's something that should concern quite a few of us: About a third of American adults—some 77.7 million people—have criminal records on the FBI's database, and they can be very difficult to wipe clean, the Wall Street Journal reports. Just half of those records are up to date, meaning they might not include information on charges being dropped or never levied.

"There is a myth that if you are arrested and cleared that it has no impact," says a Georgetown law professor. Not so, as the Journal reveals in several personal stories:

  • Precious Daniels, 39, of Detroit, was arrested over disorderly conduct in a 2009 protest. The charge was dropped, but when she applied for a Census Bureau job, the Bureau noticed her arrest. She was unable to prove she hadn't been convicted because, she says, the courthouse said it had no record of her case.
  • One Jose Hernandez was arrested for sexual assault in 2012; thing is, he was the wrong Jose Hernandez. Charges were dropped, but he still had to pay $22,500 in bail and hire a lawyer to have his record expunged. "Needless to say, that hasn't happened yet," he says. His family is still paying off loans related to the case.
  • Barbara Ann Finn, 74, ran into trouble when she applied for part-time school cafeteria work. The school district in Maryland said her fingerprints matched FBI records. It's unclear why, but she has a theory: In 1963, she was with a friend who was shoplifting. Finn was taken into custody, released, and "never thought any more about it." Documents show she wasn't charged, but she hasn't been able to have the record expunged because—as in Daniels' case—local officials can't seem to find it.
Click for the Journal's full story.