September 29, 2006
CRIMINAL RECORD-NOLLED CHARGES
By: George Coppolo, Chief Attorney
You asked whether an employer can discover from court records whether a prospective employee had a criminal charge that was nolled.
The law does not permit an employer to learn about a nolled charge that has been erased from the court, police, or other criminal justice agencies. But an employer may be able to learn about it from newspapers or other media outlets that reported about it when it occurred or from an internet search of these or other unofficial sources.
Generally, a criminal charge is nolled when the prosecutor determines that an adjudication of the charges is not in the public's interest, or that the available and admissible evidence is not sufficient to satisfy a jury of the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
State law requires that a criminal charge be erased if it has been nolled in the Superior Court, and at least 13 months have elapsed since the nolle occurred. The erased records include all police and court records and records of the prosecuting attorney pertaining to such charge (CGS § 54-142a(c)). State law also deems a charge nolled whenever it has been continued at the prosecutor's request, and at least 13 months elapse since the granting of such continuance if there has been no prosecution or other disposition of the matter. The charge is construed to have been nolled at the end of the 13 month period.
The law prohibits certain people and entities from disclosing the existence of any erased records or information pertaining to any erased charge, except as otherwise allowed by law (CGS § 54-142c). The prohibition applies to court clerks, anyone else the chief court administrator charges with retention and control of erased records, and criminal justice agencies having information contained in such erased records. The law does not contain any special provision giving employers or prospective employers the ability to obtain erased records or information in these records.
Within two years from the date of disposition of any case, the law does allow any person charged with retention and control of erased records by the chief court administrator or any criminal justice agency having information contained in such erased records to disclose to the crime victim or the victim's legal representative the fact that the case was dismissed. Any information contained in erased records, including the identity of the person charged, may be released to the crime victim or his representative if they apply in writing and state that they have filed or intend to file a law suit for loss or damage resulting from the crime (CGS § 54-142c).
Any person who obtains criminal history record information by falsely representing to be the victim of a crime or his representative is subject to a fine of up to $5,000, up to five years in prison, or both (CGS § 54-142c).