The sites usually work closely with a so-called removal service which will remove your name from their website for a payment of $400 or so. Some charge more; some charge less. Most of the sites also have a free removal process, but my clients have reported to me that the free removal services is overly cumbersome and the sites will only comply if there is an express statute banning the publication of the information. Thus, if the offender pleads to a deferred adjudication with no criminal record, many of these sites will leave the charges up even though the individiual has never been convicted of an offense.
There is also a rising grass roots movement against these sites. Many people feel that they have been the victim of blackmail and that even when they capitulate and pay the money, their name promptly prompts up on a new server. It effectively becomes a game of “whack a mole.”
The article also reports that many credit card processors have refused to handle these removal businesses and that PayPal has banned them as well. While I feel positive about these developments, my unscientific experiment showed that these sites still come up on the top with respect to my former clients with sheltered convictions. Amending the Fair Credit Reporting Act to cover these sites would be the answer in this author’s opinion. It already covers some dissemination of criminal records.
The Defendants in the Benjamin case sucessfully completed their probation and the charges against them were dropped. At the conclusion of these proceedings, the trial court ordered the destruction of their fingerprints and arrest cards pursuant to MCL 333.7411. The Court of Appeals reversed. The Appellate Court stated that even though the Defendants successfully completed their probation and the charges against them were dismissed, the defendants were not found “not guilty” for purposes of the expungement statute, (MCL 28.24398). The trial court erroneously equated a discharge and dismissal under MCL 333.7411 with a finding of not guilty; a defendant must either be found guilty or plead guilty in order to benefit from MCL 333.7411. People v Benjamin, Court of Appeals No. 281899.