Interviewer: Aren’t criminal convictions automatically removed after seven years?
Gary Churak: No. Criminal conviction stays with you for the rest of your life. A derogatory credit entry is removed after seven years. A criminal record stays with your for the rest of your life. I’ve had situations where a guy calls me up and he had a job for 40 years and he loses his job and now he’s out there looking for another job and he says “Well, I took a criminal background check and I’ve got this conviction on my record for marijuana and I don’t remember it ever happening to me.” Then he goes “Well, yeah, when I was in college, I got busted for pot. They took me in front of a judge. The judge said $200. Everybody paid and left.”
I said “Well, by doing that, you basically were found guilty of possession of marijuana and fined and it’s a permanent conviction on your record.” It doesn’t go away; even something as small as having some pot in college and not understanding the legal system can cause you grief 40 years down the road. Convictions don’t disappear.
Interviewer: What about marijuana convictions? Are they automatically removed after a number of years?
Gary Churak: No. Once again, any type of conviction is not automatically removed from your record, except for traffic tickets. They would be the only type of criminal situation that falls off your record. That falls off after three or four years. Anything else remains on your record forever. You get caught shoplifting when you’re a 17-year-old kid and you don’t have a good lawyer and somehow or another it winds up as a conviction, you’re convicted for theft for the rest of your life following you. It doesn’t go away. Marijuana doesn’t go away. Shoplifting doesn’t go away. It stays with you.
Interviewer: What about juvenile records? Are they automatically sealed when the person turns 18?
Gary Churak: It would depend on the type of case involved in the juvenile system. There are juvenile cases that can never be sealed if they are serious felonies. Then there are misdemeanors and certain felonies that can be sealed after certain periods of time, like on the 18th or 21st birthdays, but you have to take some action to seal them. They don’t automatically get sealed. Basically, you have to file a motion with the juvenile court to have the records sealed.