October 3, 2023

We all make mistakes, and it’s easy to take a wrong turn in life — the important thing is taking the right turn to get back. One things which can potentially stand in the way of getting back on the right track is employers who are reluctant to hire anyone with a criminal record. Thankfully, at least here in New Jersey, there’s something you can do about that.

New Jersey’s “ban the box” law

As of 2015, New Jersey law limits employers in asking about the criminal records of applicants. These laws are known as “ban the box” laws because they ban employers from including a box on applications asking if applicants were ever convicted of a crime.

The law forces employers to wait to conduct any criminal checks until they have held interviews, selected qualified candidates, and then made their first choice of person for the job. Once they’ve done all that, they can look into the criminal background of their first choice candidate. The law also forbids employers from looking into expunged criminal records or arrests that did not end with a conviction, as well as some other minor or old crimes that might be on record.

Expunged criminal record laws

The laws in New Jersey were updated in 2018 to ban an employer from looking into expunged criminal records. This includes asking about this type of criminal record in an interview or on an application.

Once your record has been expunged, you can legally state on any job application or in a job interview that you have never been convicted of a crime. There are a few crimes that are not eligible to be expunged, but most can be under the right circumstances. Once a crime has been expunged, employers cannot find out about it under New Jersey law.

New Jersey also updated expungement laws and eligibility to reduce waiting periods, increase the number of convictions eligible for expungement, and allow for multiple convictions to be expunged under specific circumstances.

Are there exceptions to these rules?

Of course, there are a few exceptions. All applicants for law enforcement, judicial, homeland security, or emergency management positions are subject to background checks that include a full investigation of criminal records.

Employers are also allowed to ask about criminal histories if criminal convictions could make it illegal for an employee to do the work that the job requires. For example, a good pediatric dentist can always find out about any criminal convictions of potential employees, to avoid exposing children to any potential risks.

How does a record get expunged?

The first sensible step toward having a criminal record expunged is to contact New Jersey attorneys and get the legal help you need to find out if you are eligible for expungement and what the process will specifically entail for you. In general, the process involves taking the following steps:

  • Finding your records to prove eligibility.
  • Requesting a police criminal fingerprint check.
  • Completing the petition for expungement, the order for hearing, and the expungement order forms.
  • Filing and serving the forms.
  • Distributing filed copies to all relevant parties, including the attorney general.
  • Submitting proof to the Criminal Case Management Office that you mailed copies to all relevant parties.
  • Attending your hearing.

There may be other steps for each specific case, and it’s important to follow all filing dates and requirements precisely in order to ensure the expungement is successful. That’s one reason why it’s wise to get the help of an attorney who knows the law, the courts, and all the steps involved.

New Jersey is a great place to work, and the state has taken serious steps in recent years to make it easier for people who have turned their lives around to get the jobs they deserve. To learn more and discuss specific options for you, talk to an attorney in your area.