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.