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The Internet and Criminal Cases: Is it Unfair to Have a Permanent Record of an Arrest?

David: Correct. There is an inherent problem with the Internet and I had this problem in a number of occasions where I’ve gotten not guilty verdicts for high profile defendants. Because of the information on the Internet, they are damaged goods, reputation wise.

Anyone Googling a name can find newspaper articles about the case even though the verdict was not guilty. Even though the record of the arrest, and the indictment and everything else has been annulled and doesn’t exist as a criminal record, the information can still exist on the Internet.

In this particular case, we obtained a not guilty verdict, and then we filed a petition to annul a record of the arrest, the indictment, and the court proceedings. All the court records get sealed after the annulment petition is granted.

However, the poor client has his name permanently entrenched on the Internet, such that if you Google his name, up pops all of the newspaper stories about his arrest and everything else. It is tragic what the current Internet system can do to people.

If You Can Seal Your Criminal Record, Can You Seal the Record of Your Name Appearing on the Internet?

Interviewer: Is that becoming part of your defense? Have you had to go that far for clients and try to get certain pieces of information stricken from the Internet?

David: I have not been able to figure out how to get that done very effectively because it is extremely difficult. I wish I could say otherwise but I can’t.

Interviewer: I didn’t know if, for instance, you could include Google among the records to be sealed. This way, Google has to comply with the judge’s order the same as the arresting agency does.

David:  A couple of us have explored that issue but I don’t think any of us have a good answer to that.  As I say, one of the tragic effects of the Internet is that information ending up in the internet is there on a seemingly permanent basis.