New Law Aids New Jersey Job Applicants with Criminal Records

A conviction for a crime, even a minor offense or youthful mistake, can result in a criminal record that lasts a lifetime.  It can hinder job applicants when applying for a position and block them from pursuing some careers entirely.  Often the only solution is to try to obtain an Order of Expungement of the criminal record. 

A new law recently signed by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie makes it a little easier for those with a criminal history to apply for work.  The Opportunity to Compete Act or “ban-the-box” bill restricts employers’ inquiries into applicants’ criminal backgrounds, at least in initial interviews or questionnaires.  

An employer may still make inquiries later in the job application process, after the initial interview.  At that point, there are no restrictions on what an employer may ask concerning one’s criminal record, though the employer may not ask about convictions expunged or erased by a pardon.  Also, if it is the applicant who raises the issue of a criminal conviction during the initial phase of a job application, the employer may inquire further. 

Still, the new law would prevent employers from instantly disqualifying an applicant who answers “yes” when asked if he or she was ever convicted of a crime. 

Employers who violate the act would have to pay civil penalties for each violation — $1,000 for the first, $5,000 for the second and $10,000 for the third and subsequent violations.  

Even under the new law, an expungement or pardon might be the only way to prevent inquiries into one’s criminal past at some point during the application process.  There are some professions for which even expungement may not be effective.  In some instances, an attorney may recommend a “Certificate of Rehabilitation.” 

A record of arrest or conviction, even for a seemingly minor traffic offense or a juvenile crime, can negatively impact your future.  For advice on how to remove it from your record or minimize its impact, contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Sitzler & Sitzler.  They have expertise in all areas of criminal law, including expungement of offenses from your record.  Contact us today for a free consultation.