Question: Does my record still show up on the NCIC database after it has been expunged or sealed? This is a question many potential clients ask. This is usually when the potential client is trying to fix one of the following problems:
- being detained when re-entering the United States.
- they are a resident alien hoping to become a naturalized United States citizen and they are afraid a past criminal record will adversely affect their efforts.
- when seeking employment in the federal service.
- they live outside of the State of Florida and want to know if it will help them in their State.
What is the FCIC/NCIC?
FCIC/NCIC aren’t common knowledge to most people. Unless they have worked in law enforcement or are criminal lawyers or have come into contact with the law in the worst way, these acronyms are probably unknown. For those in the know, the FCIC stands for Florida Crime Information Center and the NCIC stands for the National Crime Information Center.
The FCIC is run by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement [FDLE]. There are corresponding agencies and CICs in each State and Territory. All arrest information in Florida is forwarded to FDLE to be entered into the FCIC database. FDLE maintains records of all arrests throughout the State of Florida. Each State does this for arrests in their State.
The NCIC does the same thing except the only new data that is entered uniquely are arrests by federal agencies. The bulk of the data in the NCIC database comes from the States and Territories. Each State and Territory forwards their arrest data to the NCIC.
FCIC Arrest Data and Case Tracking/Updates
A record contained in the FCIC database begins with the arrest event. An arrest is a physical arrest with the defendant being booked into a jail or it is contact with law enforcement that results in a Notice to Appear (or other requirement to appear before the criminal court). The FCIC database follows the arrest all the way through to the disposition. This includes arrest data, prosecutorial charge decisions, and court disposition. The Clerk of Court updates FDLE with this information.
The information collected by the FCIC is transmitted to the NCIC. It is continuously updated throughout the criminal process and afterwards, if additional data is included or redacted.
Effect of Sealed/Expunged Record on FCIC
FDLE removes (redacts) a sealed or expunged record from public access under Florida law. It is removed from the petitioner’s criminal history. The information maintained by the FCIC is correspondingly updated with the NCIC. The NCIC database, which is only information obtained from FDLE, will remove data that has been redacted by FDLE from the FCIC database.
Effect of Sealed/Expunged Record on NCIC
The NCIC is for criminal justice purposes only. As stated on the FBI’s website:
The National Crime Information Center, or NCIC, has been called the lifeline of law enforcement—an electronic clearinghouse of crime data that can be tapped into by virtually every criminal justice agency nationwide, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It helps criminal justice professionals apprehend fugitives, locate missing persons, recover stolen property, and identify terrorists. It also assists law enforcement officers in performing their duties more safely and provides information necessary to protect the public.
This means that law enforcement, in states outside of Florida, will not see the arrest of an expunged record in Florida. This may be true, as of October 1, 2019, even if the case was not expunged or sealed if the case resulted in a nolle prosequi or no information under specific conditions. See, section 943.0595, Florida Statutes.
NCIC and the National Name Check Program
The NCIC seems to be the concern of most potential clients, however the program that they should be more concerned about and the one that should be explained to them is the National Name Check Program [NNCP]. The NNCP is an information database between Federal agencies. Its mission:
The mission of the National Name Check Program (NNCP) is to provide useful, accurate, and comprehensive information allowing our federal customer agencies to assess risk for the purpose of protecting the American people.
Many federal agencies seek background information from FBI files before bestowing a privilege. A privilege can be government employment or an appointment, a security clearance, attendance at a White House function, immigration benefits, naturalization, or a visa to visit the United States. The data accessed is not defined but one can assume that the data obtained from various State CIC is used and maintained for this purpose. This can also be the reason that people who have had arrests expunged or sealed still run into issues when:
- re-entering the United States.
- attempting to obtain a visa or change in status.
- they are trying to obtain a job with the Federal Government.
More NNCP information can be found on the NNCP website.
What this means is that an expungement or record sealing may have no effect or little effect on areas that concern National Security. What concerns National Security is defined by federal agencies and will not be effected by State statutes that grant relief by means of expunging or sealing a criminal record.
Obtaining Certified Copies of the Case File
Issues related to immigration, employment, security clearances, etc. mandate that before a client’s records are expunged or sealed certified copies of the content of the court file should be obtained. These documents include at a minimum:
- the police affidavit/report.
- the charging document (information, indictment, citation).
- the disposition.
In Florida, this is especially important for immigration purposes, Florida Bar, and employment with entitled entities.