Can a job I currently have find out about dismissed and sealed cases I have had?
This answer was selected by the person who asked the question as the Best Answer.
I'm not an employment lawyer, which is probably the sort of lawyer who should be able to answer this question more precisely. Nevertheless, my general understanding is that in New York, the default situation is that employers are not generally permitted to ask about non-criminal convictions or cases that did not result in criminal convictions.
That general, default situation does not apply to any number of mostly Governmental and law enforcement jobs as well as background checks required for government regulated positions. If the job is spy for the CIA, FBI agent, or NYPD officer, more than simply convictions are available for consideration. If you want to become a lawyer, you will be expected to reveal all arrests and encounters with the police except those related to parking tickets. I imagine that school teachers, day care operators, and other jobs regulated by the Government have similar access.
The reason there are exceptions in these sorts of categories is that the outcome that occurs in Criminal Court doesn't always reflect the underlying truth of the situation. For example, a person who goes to trial and wins, who is found not guilty, gets his case dismissed. Great. But the only conclusion that can be drawn from this result is that Government failed to meet an artificially high burden of proof called beyond a reasonable doubt. When the Government wants to put you in a cage, we impose this artificially high burden of proof on the Government for various political and philosophical reasons rooted in a deep mistrust of the Government. But outside a Criminal Courtroom when the Government isn't looking to put you into a cage, the Government isn't required to use this "beyond a reasonable doubt standard". If all the Government wants to do is vet the people who want to be allowed to be lawyers or FBI agents, for example, then the Government doesn't have to abide by the beyond a reasonable doubt ruling in a criminal court.
Imagine I am applying for a job with the FBI. Now imagine that all the Government can ask me is whether I have been convicted of a crime. So I answer NO.
But what if the Government were allowed to ask a deeper question about arrests or dismissed cases and my answer then transformed into "Well a few years back I got pinched for a series of armed robberies and murders out in Oklahoma, but I went to trial and no witnesses stepped forward to identify me so I beat the raps."
This should illustrate why the FBI and some others get to ask the deeper questions.
Most of the time, by the way, you should probably assume that anyone who is legally asking you deep questions about arrests and dismissed cases and such already knows the answer. FBI is not going to rely on your answer as gospel. They will check and have the access to check.