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Criminal Records and Employment: Understanding How Background Checks Work

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Criminal Records and Employment: Understanding How Background Checks Work

February 3, 2017

New Jersey criminal defense lawyer

It’s never pleasant to face criminal charges. Not only will you have to deal with a lengthy legal process and the stigma that comes with being accused of a crime, you will also have to worry about the possibility of being sentenced to prison time. Moreover, even if you manage to avoid jail or any of the other severe consequences of a criminal conviction, you will still wind up with a criminal record. This can potentially affect your entire future, making it tough for you to get employment, rent an apartment, or obtain student loans.

The reality is that the Internet era makes it extremely easy for anyone to look up your history online. If you have been convicted of a crime in New Jersey, prospective employers will have little difficulty accessing this information and using it as a justification to turn you down.

There is some good news, however, in the form of a new law in NJ that protects people with criminal convictions on their permanent records. This law is officially called the Opportunity to Compete Act (OCA), but it is typically referred to as “Ban the Box.” The New Jersey State Legislature passed the OCA in response to an outcry from many people who recognized the inherent unfairness of effectively preventing someone from even applying for a job just because they made a mistake in their past. That’s why the OCA prohibits employers from asking an applicant whether they have a criminal record prior to conducting an initial interview. (In other words: employers cannot include a “box” on the application that asks the applicant to indicate a criminal history.)

Among the other laws that protect job applicants in New Jersey are the NJ Fair Credit Reporting Act, the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Along with the OCA, all of these statutes work to protect job applicants and current employees from being unfairly treated or discriminated against on the basis of a criminal record.

Fighting Criminal Charges in New Jersey

It is important to keep in mind that these statutory protections only go so far. If you have been convicted of a crime in New Jersey, you may still be required to disclose your criminal record once the interview process begins. Moreover, your employer will still be able to conduct a background check, either through a service or via a simple Google search, to learn about your criminal record. That’s why it is imperative that you have a skilled criminal defense attorney on your side and fighting on your behalf throughout the legal process.

Beyond that, if you have already been convicted of a crime in NJ, an experienced criminal lawyer may be able to help you get the arrest or conviction expunged from your record.


If you have been charged with a crime, or if you were previously convicted of a crime, you may find it difficult to secure employment in the future. A knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer can help you fight the charges and get a prior conviction expunged from your record. Contact the legal team at Rudnick, Addonizio, Pappa & Casazza PC today to schedule a free initial consultation about your case.

“The attorney working on my personal injury case was knowledgable, courteous, and payed careful attention to every detail. He was sure to address any questions and concerns thoughtfully and respectfully. I have had an excellent experience interacting with the firm and I highly recommend the law firm of Rudnick, Addonizio, Pappa & Casazza to others.”

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