This is the kind of thing that can happen -- and it's more common than you'd think -- when you don't have an unusual name or when someone else has lied to the police and given your name at the time of an arrest.
If they do not even have Class 5 misdemeanors in Idaho, this is going to be a pain in the tail to take care of. And you will probably never get out from under this completely ,because if someone used your name as an alias or has the same name, it will always still show up on his record. But you can at least see to it that this won't hurt you.
Criminal background checks can be inexact. If yours wasn't done with a fingerprint check, it could catch the results of someone with the same name in the net. So the first thing you have to do is to obtain a copy of your complete criminal history. THE source for this would be the FBI
, but don't panic. Everybody is entitled to see his own RAP sheet, and it gets done via mail. For $18 (money order) they send you a card. You get your fingerprints taken and send the card back. They will give you your state and federal history, no matter where in the states it may be. When you get that, if the class 5 misdemeanor doesn't show up, you may not have to bother doing anything else. You can just show your FBI rap sheet. I have linked you to their site.
However, if it does show up, you will at least know where you're going to have to go next, which is to the prosecutor's office that serves the jurisdiction where this other person was convicted. I can tell you right now that you are probably not going to be able to clear your name over the phone, though by all means you might as well try, particularly if the conviction turns up on the other end of the country. But what you will want to do is to see the prosecutor, bring all sorts of official proof of your identity. They can fingerprint you (they will probably not be willing to accept your RAPS or prints at face value) have their experts match the prints to those of the other offender and, once they determine -- which they will -- that you are not the same person, you can get what they call a "Not Me" letter. This is a letter signed by the prosecutor on official letterhead and with a government seal that will state that you are not the person who was ever convicted of a class 5 misdemeanor.
There's no better authority than that, because it's the prosecutor who brings the charges in the first place. So if they say it's not you, it's not you.
Edited by FranL on 8/2/2010 at 11:10 PM EST