Q: In 2015 I was arrested for a domestic violence incident and initially charged with misdemeanor and locked up in the county prison for a week until I posted bail. Later, all the misdemeanor charges were changed to summary offenses and I was sentenced to probation and fines. All these events were covered by our local newspaper, they made this news available in their printed and online editions. The news available on the online edition is highly impacting my reputation. Also, if someone googles my name, the news articles appear on the top 3 search results. I have reached out to the newspaper to remove the internet content, but they are not responding me. I presume the news agency has their rights to cover such news, but it is highly impacting my personal life, reputation and giving me lot of depression. This is my first ever arrest and conviction. I would like to know, if an attorney can help me to get the two years old news off from the news website. Thank you. (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: The newspaper has a 1st Amendment to print news and editorial. Moreover, this is public information and unfortunately, if the information is accurate and true, publication cannot be stopped. If the newspaper did not subsequently publish that your charges were reduced to summary offenses, then it would be fair for them to print the result, as a correction, which will perhaps lessen the blow to you. The downside is that with a second article, you run the risk of more people seeing it who may not have even seen the first one. What you should know is that you now have an arrest record for all of the misdemeanor charges that you were originally arrested for. You have a right to have these original charges expunged since they were withdrawn and amended to summary offenses. That will make you look better at least on the major criminal data bases. After five years of arrest free behavior you can expunge the summary offenses. Unfortunately, the smaller private, rogue websites out there may have records of the charges that are not expunged. After your expungement goes through you can write to them with the information and demand a correction.