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Having a Criminal Record and Finding Employment

Living with a Criminal Record

Have you ever been charged with or convicted of a crime?  Did you know:

  • Federal student aid is extremely limited for students with criminal convictions?
  • The Federal Welfare law imposes a lifetime ban on anyone convicted of a drug-related felony from receiving federally funded food stamps and cash assistance.
  • The majority of states allow employers to refuse to hire anyone with a conviction record – or even an arrest that never led to conviction – because they have absolutely no guidelines or regulations on how an employer must evaluate a criminal history when considering an applicant.

As of April 2014, New Jersey is faced with an unemployment rate of 6.9%, slightly above the national rate of 6.3% for the same time period.  There is no question that finding employment can be a difficult and frustrating endeavor.  With so many people applying for the same small number of new jobs available, it’s important to realize that employers want someone that not only represents them well in person, but also on paper.

92% of all employers run some kind of background check on a person they are considering hiring.  Whether it is for your credit, which follows a 7 year history, your driving record, or your criminal record, they want to know what kind of person they are hiring. There is also what is called an “investigative consumer report,” which includes information about a person’s “character, general reputation, and personal characteristics.”

There is no way to remove a record of conviction from DMV records.  Also, adult criminal arrests and/or convictions are a matter of public record. Anyone can look them up.

There are many different levels of a criminal history check.  If you truly do not know what is on your background, credit and driving history, get the specifics on your record before you even start your job search.

Have you had a few minor run-ins with the law and are ashamed of your past behavior?  Have you ever decided to omit the information from an employment application?  This may be tempting to do, especially if you’ve kept out of trouble for a number of years, but remember, if you lie, even with a fantastic interview, your chances of getting hired for that job you want are slim to none. It is always better to be honest, and if you are open about youthful indiscretions, you may have a better shot at that job.  According to a 2013 survey by EmployeeScreenIQ, 52% of employers in the survey said they’d be more inclined to hire a candidate who disclosed a conviction before a background check revealed one

There are companies out there that are known for hiring non-violent criminals in order to help these men and women begin to rebuild their lives, but most of these jobs are minimum wage.  Some people feel as though these jobs aren’t at the level where they think they should be, but never discount the opportunity to prove your worth and work your way up.  Taking a lower-paying job than you “expect,” is one way to build a great work history and show prospective employers that you are truly rehabilitated.

It is important to know that depending on the severity of what occurred, your age when the incident happened and the time that’s elapsed since the incident, it might be possible to have your record sealed or expunged, N.J.S.A. 2C:52-1, which means the information won’t come up on a background check. This option is particularly viable if you were a minor at the time of the offense. It will, with the permission of a Judge, clear your record from what happened in the past and you will be able to go about like nothing has happed; however, every jurisdiction has its own rules about which offenses and offenders are eligible for an expungement.

If you have been charged with a crime, it is important to seek legal counsel immediately to ensure your rights are protected.  James A. Abate, Esq. is a criminal defense attorney who will fight to make sure you are treated fairly and to help you secure the most favorable outcome he can.  Please contact us at 908-643-7005 for a free consultation.

The Law Offices of James A. Abate LLC

Get your questions answered – call me for your free, 20 min phone consultation (908) 210-9755

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