Things to know about Expungement and Background Checks
Everyone makes mistakes. Sometimes, those mistakes include the commission of a crime. A criminal record can cause problems for individuals applying for jobs, applying for financial aid, or even to rent an apartment, among other things. Criminal records can be permanent and haunting, even for those relatively minor crimes.
Fortunately, offenders in New Jersey have a lifeline. New Jersey law permits the expungement of criminal records for eligible individuals. Eligibility depends on several factors including the crime committed, the time passed since the individual’s conviction, and whether or not the offender has been previously convicted of another crime.
The individual seeking expungement must file an application with the court. Only after the application is approved and an order entered can the criminal record be expunged. After expungement, the criminal record is not “deleted.” Instead, the criminal record is removed from public access and is stored separately. This process, in combination with other state and federal laws, keeps the expunged crime from being discovered in background checks.
This process is quite complicated. A New Jersey expungement attorney can help better navigate the expungement process.
Expunged records are not made discoverable to background screeners. This is important to applicants as they hope to avoid prejudice caused by past offenses. Those performing background screenings are, by law, required to avoid reporting expunged records. This is so because expunged records are deemed not to exist.
Background checks draw information from several different sources. Different agencies have different file management procedures. As such, expunged records may still appear in some government databases despite their removal from others. Ultimately, the information compiled in background checks depends on the information collected from different agencies. Thus, it is important that individuals attempt to verify that their information is properly expunged from all searchable databases.
The fact that records may remain on some governmental databases even after an expungement has occurred does not mean that an individual is not without remedy. The FTC has brought cases against background-screening services for failing to report accurate information. Likewise, background-screening services are being encouraged to actively pursue more accurate and reliable screening services.
Seeking expungement has become commonplace in today’s society. According to recent FBI reports, approximately 1/3 of the U.S. adult population has a criminal record. Although many crimes are minor, they can remain problematic. Expungement allows for those individuals to start over with a clean slate and to pursue everyday opportunities that would otherwise be more difficult with a criminal record.
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