Effects of an Expungement
An expungement is a process that results in the sealing of an individual’s criminal records. Once an expungement is successfully completed, the individual obtains a court order, signed by a judge, which states that the offense “shall be deemed not to have occurred.” Background checks through New Jersey State Police, or through the FBI, will return a response that there is “no record.” However, expunged records are not destroyed. Instead, they are segregated; the records are moved to specific locations for expunged records—a location that is not accessible to the public. These records will not show up during an ordinary background check or search. (N.J.S.A 2C:52-27)
What records can be “expunged”?
Whether convicted or not, or whether taken into custody or not, there is a record of every arrest in New Jersey. The record of this arrest is accessible to potential employers, landlords, insurance companies, and even creditors. With a New Jersey expungement, an individual is able to seal such records from the public. The criminal records that can be expunged include: complaints, warrants, arrests, commitments, processing records, fingerprints, photographs, index cards, “rap sheets” and judicial docket records (N.J.S.A 2C:52-1(b)).
Can I legally say that I have never been arrested?
In most situations, you can legally deny that the criminal matter ever happened. You can even legally deny the matter while under oath and to most employers on job applications. You cannot, however, deny the matter if you are seeking employment with law enforcement, corrections, or the court system.
How will this affect my future employment opportunities?
Once the arrest has been expunged, you can legally deny the matter to most employers. Unless the employer has knowledge of the arrest or has stored a record of the arrest before you had it expunged, the record will not affect future employment opportunities. You are not obligated to address the matter with the employer, nor will the employer be able to find the record under an ordinary search.
The exception to disclosure arises in the area of law enforcement, corrections, or the court system. The applications for this area of employment require that you disclose prior arrests, even if they have been expunged. Even though you must disclose the matter to these employers, you are not automatically denied once you have disclosed the arrest information—the employer will consider the application as a whole and from there will decide on the hiring process.