A criminal history is a detailed list of your arrests and convictions. Almost one-third of Americans have one. About half of children in the US have a parent with an arrest or conviction.
The problem with these is that landlords and employers have access to this information. Even if you commit a minor crime or the police arrest you for something you did not do, you could face barriers due to having a criminal record.
What barriers does a criminal record present?
Having a criminal history can create a barrier to getting housing, education, employment and public assistance. Employers, landlords and colleges run background checks on applicants and a record often disqualifies people from state and federal aid. Even if you do not have convictions on your record, an arrest will still impact your opportunities for jobs. Additionally, a record can cross generations and make it harder for your children to get an education.
Can you clear a criminal record?
You can clear some types of records via expungement or seal them. Expungements remove the arrests and convictions so it is like they never existed. Even the courts cannot view an expunged record. On the other hand, sealing removes your record from the public eye but leaves it for the court to view if necessary.
How is NJ making this easier?
New Jersey is making some types of criminal offenses easier to expunge or seal, such as drug charges. Additionally, both the state and localities are making the process easier for you by reducing waiting periods and lowering filing fees.
Expungement can give you a second chance at employment. That can help you become more financially stable. Start the process soon so you can get back to work as quickly as possible.