How to Remove Court Cases from the Internet: Tips and Tricks
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Everyone makes mistakes. But imagine if your biggest mistake was the first result on Google when someone searched your name.
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You’d start researching how to remove court cases from the internet and repair your reputation pretty fast we bet.
In a day and age when your career, your dating prospects, and your creditworthiness can all be destroyed by your online reputation, it’s vital that you protect your privacy.
The last thing you want is a petty juvenile offense or case where the charges were dropped haunting you forever.
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If you are experiencing a sudden influx of negative results online, there are several ways to deal with it. For instance, you may be dealing with a very old mistake, like a DUI from your college days.
When that suddenly pops up, you should consider having the record sealed or expunged.
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Sometimes, it will not be possible to have your record sealed or expunged. The decision will be made by the judge depending on several factors. For instance:
- How severe the crime was
- The type of record (civil or criminal)
- Whether the public is entitled to know the contents of the record (sex offenders, etc.)
- How old the record is
So, for example, if the records you are trying to expunge are 30 years old and for a minor offense, it’s much more likely that you’ll have your request granted than if you were arrested for murder a few weeks ago.
If sealing or expungement is not an option, consider developing a reputation management strategy.
Why Do I Have to Learn How to Remove Court Cases From the Internet in the First Place?
Even though it feels like an infringement of your privacy, you do not own any information in your public records. There are many federal laws that support making court records public information.
The First Amendment and the Freedom of Information Act, for instance. And on top of those precedents, there are individual state laws about public records.
However, there are exceptions to the law. You have to prove that your right to privacy outweighs the public’s right and/or need to access your records.
If you are currently listed as a sex offender, your request will be denied in the interest of public safety.
Likewise, if you were arrested for murder or grand larceny, it will be difficult to have the public records removed.
In these cases, the public’s right to know outweighs your right to privacy.
Why Is Old Information Showing Up At the Top of Google?
Many people who experience this problem have the same question. “There’s plenty of other information about me, why do court records rank so highly on Google?”
This happens for a variety of reasons, all of which are tied to Google’s algorithms. Google’s number one goal is to deliver the information you’re searching for in as few clicks as possible.
To make sure users get the right information fast, they take into account information like the following:
Every website has a certain level of authority or “consumer trust” on Google. It’s exactly like citing sources back in school. Sites like CNN, Hubspot, and Forbes are “primary sources” because they are trusted.
Whereas a random kittykatlunches.pizza website is barely a blip on the radar.
The reason court cases rank so highly is that the third-party sites they’re listed on have high domain authority.
These are just a few of the third-party sites that collect court record information to be browsed by the public. When you research how to remove court cases from the internet, remember that you’ll need to address each site individually.
Clicks are the number one ranking factor on Google. If people consistently click on a link, it moves higher in the rankings.
This is because more traffic indicates higher relevancy. And, unfortunately, people are much more likely to click on a court record result than a LinkedIn Profile.
Are you noticing that press releases and other blog sites appear right underneath the actual court record results? This could be the result of backlinking.
Just as we mentioned above, domain authority is just like a “primary source”. And backlinking is just like citing those sources.
When sites write articles and link back to public records, it gives them more credibility. It also proves that the court record is a useful document. This becomes a feedback loop.
So if enough people link to a court record, it gives their article authority while also verifying the court document as legitimate.
What Are My Options?
How To Remove Court Cases From the Internet
Now that you understand why negative results are showing up, it’s time to learn how to fix it. There are two methods you can choose from. Which one works best for you will depend on your specific circumstances.
Option One: Complete Removal
This is the ideal scenario and what you should shoot for if it’s at all possible. To have your court records completely removed from the internet, you will have to file a motion to expunge or seal your court records.
After you file, a judge will decide whether or not to grant your request.
The exact steps vary by state, but, generally speaking, there are two types of cases:
Civil Court Records
- Trade secrets
- Settlement agreements
- Divorce decrees
- Medical records
A judge is much more likely to seal civil records on request than criminal records. Mostly because it’s much easier to prove that your right to privacy outweighs the public right to know.
Criminal Court Records
Criminal Court Records include:
- Arrest records
- Penal Code section violated
- Case number
- Trial transcripts (if any)
Unless the crime is very old, very minor, or occurred when you were a minor, it probably won’t be expunged. If you can prove that it is dangerous to your personal safety or materially damaging your career, that may help.
For instance, if you committed a crime under duress, and the abusive party can find you through public records. This endangers you and your family.
Another example would be if you were caught in possession of marijuana at age 19. You were arrested and tried as an adult but caused no harm to anyone, and now you’re an upstanding citizen.
If you want to work in banking or the medical field this could keep you from getting a job.
Improve Your Chances
You can improve your chances of having your records expunged or sealed if you limit your request. For instance, if you ask the judge to seal certain documents or sections instead of the whole record.
For instance, maybe you want an employment case to be sealed because it’s scaring off potential employers.
You can have all the documents pertaining to your medical conditions or medical records sealed because that’s protected private information.
If your court records are successfully sealed or expunged, they will be automatically removed from some third-party sites. But not all. You will likely still have to petition the sites one-by-one to have your information removed.
If they will not remove the records despite your court order, speak to an attorney.
And remember, removing court records from these sites does not guarantee their complete removal from the internet. Especially if your case was highly publicized, there may be shares on social media, screenshots, or news reports as well.
Option Two: Online Reputation Management
If your request to seal or expunge your records is denied by the judge, the next best option is search engine suppression. This method is based on the information above about how Google algorithms work.
You just reverse the concept to create your own content.
If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em! And by “join them”, we mean create meaningful, relevant content that will be picked up by Google. Use keywords and backlinks and other SEO methods to encourage traffic and clicks.
Over time, with enough content and consistent posting, you should be able to bury negative results with positive ones.
Less than 10% of people go to the second page of Google. So you just have to move the records down to 11th place to be successful!
Don’t have the time, inclination, or tech know-how to start your own SEO campaign? You can always hire a reputation management company that specializes in exactly that.
Reclaim your reputation.
Contact us today to learn how to remove court cases from the internet and protect your online reputation fast!