With social media and online news being disseminated over the internet at lightning speed, people in Connecticut who have arrest records are finding it more difficult to remove their arrest reports from the internet after their case has been dismissed and all charges have been dropped. This is particularly frustrating for people who have been arrested in Stamford, Greenwich, Darien, Westport, Wilton, Fairfield, Norwalk and New Canaan, as well as other Connecticut jurisdictions, because while Connecticut has a generous Erasure Statute, online media entities are largely ignoring the statute’s directives.
Here’s how it works: you are arrested for a misdemeanor or felony, including a DWI / DUI, a domestic violence crime, a drug crime, or a larceny, and you apply for a court diversionary program like the Alcohol Education Program, the Accelerated Rehabilitation Program, the Drug Education Program, or the Family Violence Education Program. The Connecticut Superior Court admits you into the program, you stay out of trouble, and your criminal charges are dismissed or, alternatively, the charges are nolled (meaning the prosecutors drop your case and an automatic dismissal automatically takes effect 13 months from the nolle date).
It is at this dismissal stage and date where the Connecticut Erasure Statute, C.G.S. § 54-142a(e) kicks in and legally erases your arrest and court records. The Erasure Statute goes on to authorize that after the dismissal date, you may actually “swear under oath” that you have never been arrested.
With your arrest now erased, wouldn’t it be logical that all reports of your arrest now come off the internet? Not so fast. Despite the clear intention of the Connecticut Erasure Law, websites are under no obligation to take down the old arrest reports. They argue their First Amendment rights allow them to continue to publish your old, erased arrest. So as a result, you now have been branded with a digital scarlet letter for all future employers, landlords, credit checkers, background checkers, and internet surfers to permanently discover in any internet search of your name.
If it seems unfair, that’s because it is.
The law simply has not kept pace with technology. Fortunately, the lawyers at Mark Sherman Law are the trailblazers in this area of the law. We are the only firm to take this issue to the appeal courts, and have taken meaningful steps forward in trying to change the laws to right this wrong. Attorneys Mark Sherman and Ryan O’Neill, who have litigated criminal cases, defamation / libel / slander cases, and other First Amendment issues for a collective 19 years, are now taking websites to task to help their clients protect their reputation.
At Mark Sherman Law, we get many calls from people wondering if they need to hire an attorney help them scrub the internet clean of their prior arrests. The answer is usually yes. One risk you run by trying to handle these issues alone is that whatever you say to these media organizations is usually communicated “on the record” and as we’ve seen in the past, you can end up seeing your cease and desist communications with these websites posted online, only exacerbating your problems. As your Connecticut expungement and erasure attorney, the lawyers at Mark Sherman Law can attempt to communicate with these entities and their company attorneys in a way that can be confidential and not expose you to any additional negative publicity.
In 2012, the Mark Sherman Law Firm filed a proposed class action libel suit in Stamford Superior Court against Hearst Corporation, Cablevision, and other online news outlets to attempt to hold these businesses liable for continuing to publish our client’s erased arrest, as well as the erased arrests of others in her same situation. Our client’s criminal charges were dismissed, her arrest erased, and she was finding it difficult to find a nursing job with these entities’ continued publication of her arrest. The libel suit was transferred to federal court where a judge granted summary judgment in favor of the media defendants; however, we have appealed the decision and the appeal is pending in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. We will keep our readers updated as the case progresses.
Our Connecticut internet scrubbing / erasure services are unique and distinct from reputation defense service providers who charge monthly fees to drive your negative internet publicity and arrest records further down in the rankings in search engine results. As experienced Connecticut erasure and libel / defamation lawyers in Stamford, Greenwich, Darien, Westport, Fairfield, Norwalk, New Canaan, or Westchester County, our goal is the outright and immediate removal of your arrest report and records from the entire internet. And while we cannot always guarantee results, the testimonials on our website show that we have had very successful results for many of our clients.
So if you are interest in working with our attorneys to have your Connecticut arrest records from Stamford, Greenwich, Darien, Westport, Fairfield, Norwalk, New Canaan, or other jurisdictions removed from the internet, please call an attorney at Mark Sherman Law to learn how we can help you. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at (203) 358-4700.