Expungement is the legal process that allows a petitioner to get a court order to effectively delete their records, or portions of their records, for the purpose of a background check, or any general search or any other use by the agency. Once a court orders a record expunged, the incidents covered by those records are treated as though they never occurred.
Expungement proceedings may be specific to one investigation, multiple investigations, a specific time period in a case, or an entire case. Court ordered expungements will make specific references to the material being expunged to guide the agency's actions in executing an expungement.
If a petitioner requests that DCBS records be included as part of a petition for expungement, the court will set a hearing on the request and provide notice to the associated agencies. It is important that DCBS communicate a timely decision between the local office and Office of Legal Services (OLS) if the agency plans to oppose the petition or not. If the court ultimately orders an expungement, the department has thirty (30) days to appeal an expungement. It is important the local office and OLS communicate about any petitions for expungement or expungement orders issued by the court, since the orders may not be distributed consistently across jurisdictions, and since the timely dispute of an expungement order has real consequences for the agency to ensure that alleged perpetrators are correctly listed on the central registry.
DCBS should not proceed with an expungement unless the agency is specifically named by the expungement unless the agency is specifically named by the expungement order, and only after the period for an appeal has expired. Expungement orders are typically issued on the AOC 497 form or the AOC JV 29 form.
When a DCBS office receives a petition for an expungement, it ensures that the petition is forwarded to the county of substantiation and Office Of Legal Services.
The county of substantiation and OLS determine if the department will challenge the petition, and participate in the hearing accordingly.
Should DCBS be directed to expunge records, the county of substation and OLS will make a timely decision to appeal that order and pursue the appeal accordingly.
To execute a court ordered expungement, the expungement order should be forwarded to the Records Management section and the Division of Protection and Permanency in central office.
Prior to expungement, Records Management and DPP will verify that:
The order specifically lists DCBS or CPS as agencies included in the written expungement order; and
That DCBS has decided not to challenge the expungement, or has exhausted its avenues to challenge the order.
To expunge a record, Records Management and DPP will analyze the order and will only expunge that which is specifically referenced per the expungement order, for example, an order may be limited to one referral or a specific period of time. Records not specifically included in the order will not be expunged.
The Records Management Section will expunge the hard copy records, and DPP will expunge the TWIST database and retain a copy of the expungement order for verification of the completion of the expungement.
DPP will maintain a file of completed expungements. These records will not be available to any ordinary record search unless directed by the Office of Legal Services.