Your Record: Order of Protection Background Checks & Expungements

An Order of Protection is civil in nature, but landlords, banks, and employers commonly request civil record reports as part of their routine background check.Tip: Personal “Restraining Orders” are called Orders of Protection in TN. To learn more see our Order of Protection Guide.Having an Order of Protection show up on a background check can be a nightmare.It means anyone who looks will know a Judge found you to be a danger to someone else. As the saying goes…
Reason to keep or expunge an Order of Protection off your record
This article will walk you through everything you need to know about Orders of Protection and background checks.If you’re just looking for quick answers about an Order of Protection that has already been granted, jump to this sectionKeep Or Expunge An Order of Protection Off Your RecordSee a real life example of how this can impact you (bottom of page).

Yes… Orders of Protection do show up on background checks.  

Once an Order of Protection has been granted, it is on your record. Anyone can find find it, even if it gets dismissed.(If it’s not too late, you should definitely learn more and speak to a lawyer about your Order of Protection.)

What Types of Background Checks Show Orders of Protection?

It is virtually guaranteed for the background checks that employers, leasing agents, and banks use. The internal policies of those businesses will dictate whether that information will count against you.For less official companies, it is hit or miss. Some will have it and some won’t. There are so many companies that collect and sell information it’s becoming difficult to hide anything from anyone.There are also firms and private investigators whose sole job is to find any record that exists on you.

Maybe… Orders of Protection can be removed and/or expunged, but…

If an Order of Protection was taken out against you and appears on your record during a background check, you could have problems:
  • Getting approval to lease a residence
  • Taking out a loan in your name
  • Getting that job you interviewed for
Even more concerning is the risk of being charged with a violation of an Order of Protection. Once an order has been granted, no proof is required for you to be arrested.If convicted, this is a bonafide criminal charge and is guaranteed to be counted against you. Learn more about Order of Protection violations.Also, are you single? People perform background checks on potential partners. I would want to know if someone who I’m going out with is currently under an Order of Protection for stalking.Let’s say you are charged with a crime. The District Attorney will try to use an Order of Protection on your record to increase punishment or suggest that your guilt is more likely.Particularly if you are charged with an offense against another person. Even more so if that person is a significant other.Consider a charges like domestic assault, stalking, harassment that is brought against you sometime after you were under an Order of Protection.An Order of Protection in your past will not look good in the eyes of the Court or a jury if your lawyer does not know how to keep it from them or clean up your record.

Why Is An Order of Protection On Your Record A Problem? 

The kinds of things people seeking an Order of Protection usually allege are threats, actual violence, and stalking.This is not conduct with which you want to be associated in the eyes of someone performing a background check on you.
  • You might not be able to live where you want.
  • You might not get that loan you need.
  • You might not get that job you deserve.
  • You may be turned down by that person you should be dating.

Keep Or Expunge An Order of Protection Off Your Record: 

The two biggest factors in determining whether an Order of Protection could be visible on a background check are:(1) Whether the Order was ultimately granted; and (2) What kind of background check is being performed. In order to have the Petition and Ex Parte Order of Protection (if one was granted) erased from public record through an expungement:
  • First, an Order of Protection hearing must be help to hear arguments from both sides,
  • Next, the Court must deny the application of the person seeking an Order of Protection against you,
  • Finally, you must complete the expungement process.
The expungement process involves filing a request through the clerk’s office and verifying your eligibility.  It’s best to have a lawyer help you petition the Court for an expungement.If you lose the Order of Protection hearing, you will not be able to expunge the order from your public record. (Unless you appeal and are able to win the appeal.)Even sealed, expunged records would be discoverable if you are attempting to gain security clearance or some law enforcement positions.

So… It Will Be Removed From My Record If The Order Is Expunged? 

As far as the Court system is concerned, yes.But…For the majority of background check companies that have it, the order could still show up.Anyone could have a reason to look.Here is a short list of the companies that exist solely for the purpose of gathering your criminal and civil public records:
  • Intelius
  • Instant Checkmate
  • Truthfinder
  • Been Verified
Most of these companies are inexpensive and simply gather snapshots of certain records. The databases of these companies might not include Orders of Protection, but they are not the types of companies used for serious background checks.The biggest concern you should have is whether a record exists.If a record exists, then you should try to expunge it.If you cannot expunge it, then a serious background check will find it.When I say serious, I mean the kind routinely used by employers, leasing agents, banks etc.The most serious would be a background check run by a private investigator.That type of background check involves a person hired to find everything on you.The person directing the check instructs the person performing the check to find what is available.If the record exists, a serious background check will find it.

Why Would An Order Of Protection Still Show Up After It Is Expunged?

Although highly relied upon, background check companies do not always get it right.Often they are negligent in updating their records after your expungement has been approved by the Court.Why? Because their customers pay them to find any “warning signs” in your record. It’s safer and cheaper for the companies to focus on getting the records, not updating and/or removing records.This means a record of an Order of Protection being filed against you would still show up on some checks even after being dismissed and expunged.The process for removing inaccurate criminal and civil records varies from company to company.For the public facing platforms, such as Truthfinder, the process is simple. You contact their legal department and ask for your information to be removed.For official background check companies, the process can be quite complex and requires a lot of back and forth communication.

How do I correct inaccurate records?

We sometimes have background checks performed on clients at their request.You should want to know what can be found on you.Especially if there is something specific you are worried about that may not be right.If that is the case, we will contact the company with Certified Copies of a Dismissal or Expungement Order.It is also the case with some companies that you can demand they take your information down. Even if the information is accurate.We have also done that with success.Our clients’ reputations are very important to us.If you believe one of these companies is reflecting inaccurate information in your record, contact us. We can ensure that they fix any discrepancies.Know what is out there on you.

Protect your reputation. Protect your career. Protect your home. Protect yourself.

Example: An Order of Protection that showed up on a background check almost kept our client from renting an apartment.

We represented a young man and were successful in defeating the Order of Protection an ex-girlfriend tried take out against him. After the dismissal, we filed the expungement paperwork and the Order was expunged from the court records.

Unfortunately, one of the private database companies failed to update their records. The apartment had a background check done on our client and the report showed that he was under an Order of Protection.

His application to rent was denied.

We got a certified copy of the court records showing that he did not have an Order of Protection and also provided the Expungement Order. None of this convinced the apartment manager that there was no Order of Protection. It was astonishing how much faith he put in his background check.

I honestly felt like I was dealing with a 12 year old — albeit one who had control over my client’s ability to rent an apartment.

He told me that if the Order of Protection did not currently exist, it would be impossible to see it on the background check. Period. End of story in his mind.

No amount of explaining how companies compile these records could break through his certainty.

(These companies just do periodic sweeps of court records, capturing whatever happens to be there at that moment in time. Yet, they deliver their background checks months or even years later.)

Ultimately, I was able to get the name of the background check company. I provided them with the information and notified them they they should immediately update their database and submit an accurate background check to the apartment complex.

Understandably, they immediately did so because they recognized we could sue them.

After that, the apartment manager was very apologetic, and, of course, our client got that apartment.

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