Interesting story that illustrates a limitation on sealing and expunction of criminal records that often frustrates my clients.
A relatively low-profile actor was indicted for rape in New Jersey. After further information came to light, prosecutors brought the case back to the grand jury, who refused to indict in light of the new evidence and the case was dismissed. The actor then expunged the arrest under New Jersey law, which like Florida law apparently eliminates (most) traces of the arrest in government records. However, a Google search of his name reveals all kinds of media stories about the original accusation, which are unaffected by the expunction order. He is now trying to have Google “de-index” stories about his arrest so they do not appear in searches – so far, it appears, without success, because Google does this generally only when stories are found to be “false and defamatory”.
Florida law is generally similar in that the expunction of a dismissed criminal charge does not apply to private entities, which may allow information about the case to exist online well after a court has ordered the record expunged from government records.
Is this unfair to the actor, or is there public value in maintaining a record of even debunked accusations? It’s an issue many of my clients have to grapple with.