I'm Burdened with My Sister's Criminal Record

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May 1, 1999

The first time I was informed of my sister using my identity was sometime in the early part of the 90's. I went down to the San Fernando courthouse. It takes me an hour to get to the San Fernando Valley and another hour to get back. My mother suggested for me not to cause any legal trouble for my sister. The court assumed I was guilty until they took my fingerprints and my mother told them it was her other daughter, who committed the crime. It was a completely humiliating experience.

The second time I learned about my sister using my name, was from a professor at the Community College. My teacher informed the class, that no one could attend the field trip to the Lancaster State Prison, if they had a warrant or criminal record. Since I thought my record was clean, I was quite surprised when I received a phone call from my instructor. He thought I was lying and he refused to allow me to attend the field trip. I was once again humiliated and shocked upon learning that I had another court appearance to attend. My husband attended court with me and we waited for many hours to see the judge. Once again I was assumed guilty by the court until they finger printed me.

Until the Census Bureau informed me of having a record with the FBI, I never realized I had a criminal record. (I applied for a job with the Census.) I don't understand why I have a record if I went to court and gave them my fingerprints. When the police arrested my sister, didn't they take her fingerprints? How could the police be so easily deceived? Why did I actually have to get finger printed to prove I was innocent? I believe the FBI thinks my identity is my sister's alias. In spite of the humiliating experience, I still could not bring myself to press charges against my sister.

I have not been able to secure employment except for working in a health food store. My former employer from the health food store did not investigate my background. Many times I have applied for employment and I never received an explanation for not being hired. Why didn't anyone ever tell me? Isn't it the responsibility of the court system to inform a person of their record?

My sister was a drug addict, prostitute, thief, etc. Now she has cleaned up her life, but her past is still haunting me.




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