Expungement of criminal and police records

Expungement of criminal and police records
Published on: 2 June 2024

Table of contents

Many people, at some point in their lives, have found themselves in a compromising situation that has led them to have a criminal or police record. This, as you are well aware, can be a real problem when it comes to dealing with certain procedures such as, for example, accessing a public job offer. However, you should know that cancellation, when a series of requirements are met, is a right that you can exercise. Here we are going to tell you everything you need to know about it, the best thing to do is always to use the services of a specialised criminal lawyer to avoid problems in the cancellation and elimination of this record.

1. What is a criminal record and how does it differ from a police record?

A criminal record is essentially a set of data collected by the Ministry of Justice in its Central Register of Convicts and Rebels that refers to a subject after he/she has been convicted of committing a certain offence. Its purpose is to allow the authorities to know the most recent criminal history of the subject once he or she has served his or her sentence.

Although very common, they should never be confused with police records. Specifically, these are the data relating to a subject that form part of the databases of the State Security Forces and Corps, i.e. the Guardia Civil, the National Police or their equivalents in the autonomous communities of Navarre, the Basque Country and Catalonia, the Judicial Police Units, the Local and Municipal Police or the Guardia Urbana.

The main difference between the two records is that, while criminal records require the commission of a crime and an incriminating sentence, police records do not. In fact, it is enough to have been involved in any situation for which the officers have asked you to identify yourself for your details to be included in their records. In other words, an arrest generates a police record, but not necessarily a criminal record.

2. How to find out if you have a history of any kind

Here we are going to explain how you can find out if you have a criminal or police record, which is an essential step before you can cancel it.

2.1 Criminal record check

The only way to find out if you have them is to request a criminal record certificate. This is basically done through form 790, which you can download from the Internet or find in the offices of any territorial management office of the Ministry of Justice of the municipality in which you live. In any case, even if you download it online, once the form 790 has been filled in, it must be submitted in person unless you have an official electronic certificate. You can also request to file by post if, for example, you live abroad. In all cases, the fee is €3.70 as a fee.

2.2 How do I know if I have a police record?

This is slightly more complex than in the previous case. This is mainly due to the fact that the procedure must be carried out in accordance with the provisions of the Organic Law on Personal Data Protection and the possibility that this provides to access, rectify, cancel and oppose the files held by official bodies that contain information about you. To find out if you have a police record, you must request a consultation of the INTPOL file, managed by the Guardia Civil, or PERPOL, used by the National Police and other police forces. On the websites of both organisations you can find the form to make this request. If you do not receive a reply or if you receive a refusal, which is all too common, you should lodge an appeal with the General Data Protection Agency (Agencia General de Protección de Datos).

3. How to expunge your criminal record

Expunging a criminal and police record is possible. Here we will show you how to do it.

3.1 Expungement of criminal records

Criminal records do not remain in the database of the Ministry of Justice forever. In fact, they expire and the law requires their cancellation and elimination. In this sense, the first thing to do is to let time pass. Depending on the offence committed, the law dictates a certain period of time for their destruction. For example, criminal records generated by crimes considered minor have a period of 6 months, while those caused by very serious crimes can last up to 10 years. This period starts to run, as we said before, from the moment the sentence is served.

In addition, in order to proceed with the cancellation of your criminal record, you must also have fulfilled the criminal liability established by the judge. You may not have re-offended during this period of time. If you meet all these requirements, your data will be automatically removed from the database of the Register of Offenders and Convicted Persons. If this is not the case, all you have to do is file a complaint with the Ministry of Justice, enclosing the necessary evidence to have them erased.

3.2 Expungement of police records

Expungement of police records is not as important as expungement of criminal records, but it is still worthwhile. However, as with the issue of consultation, it is also more complex to demand their erasure and elimination.

The cancellation of these records is also included in the Organic Law on the Protection of Personal Data. However, it provides for the possibility for the State Security Forces and Corps to deny it on the grounds that there is an ongoing investigation in which it is necessary or to guarantee the freedoms and defence of third parties. This is the most ambiguous concept and, consequently, the most difficult to argue against.

If problems arise with the cancellation of criminal or police records, it is best to turn to experts in the field. And it is only and exclusively thanks to their advice and the detection of bad 'praxis' carried out by the competent bodies, that it is possible to proceed to their definitive erasure. At G.Elias y Muñoz Abogados we have a team of criminal lawyers who will solve any problem you may have, do not hesitate to contact us.

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