Every year, thousands of people are arrested in Bucks County, but a significant percentage of these individuals are never convicted of any criminal wrongdoing. Under the Pennsylvania Criminal History Record Information Act, if a person’s arrest doesn’t lead to a conviction, their personal information and the facts about their arrest cannot be shared with the public.
If you’ve ever been arrested, do you know if your arrest record was shared with others or made public? A Pennsylvania judge recently ruled to allow a class action lawsuit to proceed involving the arrest records of nearly 70,000 individuals whose photos were unlawfully published on the Bucks County Prison’s Inmate Lookup Tool. The class action suit originated with the filing of a lawsuit by a man named Daryoush Taha.
An Unexpected Invasion of Rights
In 1998, Taha was convicted of disorderly conduct. Two years after his arrest, Taha was granted an expungement of his criminal record, which he believed essentially erased any record of the incident. However, in 2011, Taha was shocked and horrified to learn that his arrest photo was included on the Bucks County Prison’s Inmate Lookup Tool, a public online database.
Taha subsequently sued the prison, paving the way for the class action lawsuit to proceed, which could result in millions of dollars in payouts to those individuals affected by this egregious violation of the law.
A Continuum of Consequences
If an erroneous classification or disregard for the law results in your past arrest information being made public, you can be exposed to a never-ending stream of consequences. Credit bureaus, potential employers, landlords and mortgage companies routinely look up public criminal records to weed out potential high-risk borrowers, employees and tenants. If your arrest did not end in a conviction, it is important to ensure that your rights and personal information are respected and protected.