What Business Owners Need to Know About Expungement In New Jersey
There are numerous circumstances during the course of your life when you may be asked to submit information for a background check. In New Jersey, you need to submit to a background check to become a teacher, perform certain duties as a casino employee, receive your New Jersey law license, and the list goes on. In addition to submitting to background checks when you're seeking employment, you may also discover that you'll have to disclose your criminal history if you plan to operate a business.
As outlined by the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, you must pass a background check to obtain a professional license to operate a variety of business types.
These business types include but are not limited to:
- Acupuncture businesses
- Chiropractic businesses
- Alarm or locksmithing businesses
- Marriage and family therapy businesses
- Veterinary businesses
- Real Estate businesses
The list above is only a small sample of the industries in which licensing boards will investigate your criminal history before issuing you a license to practice within the profession or open a related business.
Fortunately, there is a road to success in New Jersey for many individuals who'd like to move on from their past despite their criminal record. Many criminal records can be expunged, allowing you to move forward with a successful and productive life as a business owner.
The Expungement Process in New Jersey
Expungement in New Jersey means that documentation relating to your criminal record within the state will be “extracted” and will no longer appear in a search when a licensing board or other party runs a background check on you. While this doesn't mean that the offenses have been forgiven, it does mean that you're not required by law to disclose the offenses once they've been expunged or extracted.
Individuals who've been convicted of certain nonviolent crimes or drug crimes can, in many cases, move to have their criminal record expunged. It's important to understand, though, that the process can be tedious and requires you to file a petition with the court detailing each offense you wish to have expunged from your record. It can be a time-consuming back and forth with the agencies that have a record of your offenses, particularly if the crimes you've been convicted of occurred in different counties.
The steps to expunging your criminal record in New Jersey include:
- Speaking with an attorney to determine your expungement eligibility
- Obtaining records of each offense from applicable agencies
- Preparing and filing the Petition for Expungement
- Attending any hearings required by the court
- Upon approval, submitting notice to the applicable agencies
The expungement process requires a great deal of patience. Not only do you need to locate all of your records, but you also need to formally request records from the agencies that possess them. This step can take a considerable amount of time, so the earlier you get started on the process, the better. Additionally, you're likely to encounter long wait times while the judge assigned to your expungement case reviews your petition. The judge may approve your Petition for Expungement or require you to present additional evidence demonstrating why the petition should be approved. Once that process concludes, you'll once again need to submit a formal notice to the agencies who possess the records to inform them of the expungement approval. Only once the agencies extract the records, after they receive formal notice, will the records cease to appear on a background check.
If you're wondering whether all of this red tape is worth it, you should consider all that you may have to give up if you choose to live with the criminal record. A bar, such as an old criminal record, to a professional license or a business venture will severely limit your income potential for the duration of your life. With the help of a skilled attorney who can help you navigate the process efficiently and who can guide your understanding of the timeline, the expungement process will go more smoothly.
Expungement Eligibility for Business Owners
If you're considering expunging your records so that you can move forward with your business operations, you first need to know if your record is eligible for expungement.
There are varying degrees of offenses set forth in the New Jersey Penal Code. The most serious type of crime you can be charged with is called an Indictable Offense, which is similar to a felony in other jurisdictions. A Disorderly Persons offense, akin to a misdemeanor, is a step down from an Indictable offense and is less serious. Finally, the least serious offense an individual can be charged with in the state of New Jersey is called a Municipal Ordinance offense, generally punishable only by fines.
While some offenses, like murder or violent sexual crimes, are not expungable under New Jersey law, you can still expunge some of the most seriously charged offenses. There are limits, however, to what and how many of those offenses can be expunged. For example, you can expunge up to 5 Disorderly Persons offenses, but if you wish to also expunge an Indictable Offense, the number of Disorderly Persons offenses you can expunge goes down to 3. Notably, there is no limit to the number of Municipal Ordinance offenses that can be expunged from your record in many cases.
Talk to an Experienced New Jersey Expungement Attorney
The expungement process is a tool designed to help individuals who want a fresh start in life, despite their criminal history, to move forward and find success in their own business ventures. The landscape of expungement rules in New Jersey is always changing; for example, the recently implemented “Clean Slate” statute gives added expungement availability to those who've committed no crimes within the last 10 years.
Since the laws, which are complicated to begin with, are always shifting with policy changes, you will undoubtedly find more success if you pursue expungement with the guidance of an experienced New Jersey expungement attorney. Joseph D. Lento understands that hardworking individuals deserve a second chance to pursue their dreams. The Lento Law Firm has helped countless people regain control over their futures through expungement petitions, and to learn how he can help you, call 888-535-3686 today.