Does New Jersey Follow the 7-Year Rule for Background Checks?

a background check form on a clipboard while someone hovers over it with a pen

Facing a background check can be a daunting experience, especially for people with a criminal record. The uncertainty of how far back these checks can reach can create a great deal of anxiety. You may have heard about the 7-year rule for background checks, but does New Jersey follow it? Our attorneys at William Proetta Criminal Law are here to answer any questions or concerns you might have about what could show up on your background check.

Different Types of Background Checks

Organizations and individuals can conduct background checks for various reasons, including employment, rental applications, credit applications, and more. Background checks allow employers, financial institutions, landlords, and others to ensure the integrity and suitability of an individual for a given role or responsibility.

  • Employment background checks – Employers often conduct background checks to verify the information a job applicant provides. They might check past employment history, education, and professional licenses. Certain positions, especially those involving financial responsibility or work with vulnerable populations, may also involve a criminal background check.
  • Financial background checks – These checks focus on a person’s financial past. Banks, lenders, and creditors use them to ascertain an individual’s creditworthiness. They could reveal credit scores, bankruptcy history, and past loan or credit card payment issues.
  • Rental background checks – Landlords use these checks to evaluate potential tenants. These typically involve a credit check and possibly a criminal background check. They help landlords ascertain whether a prospective tenant has a history of financial instability or criminal behavior that could put the property or the safety of other tenants at risk.

What Is the 7-Year Background Check Rule?

The 7-year lookback rule for background checks is a provision of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). It limits the reporting of certain negative information to the previous seven years. This rule typically includes civil judgments, liens, and arrests not leading to a conviction.

Under the FCRA, the 7-year rule does not generally apply to criminal convictions. As such, barring any specific state laws to the contrary, a background check may reveal an individual’s entire adult criminal history, not restricted to just the past 7 years.

Does New Jersey Follow the 7-Year Background Check Rule?

While the 7-year background check rule limits the availability of some information in New Jersey, there is no 7-year limitation regarding criminal background checks. That means potential employers and financial institutions conducting these checks can see a person’s entire adult criminal history unless a conviction has been expunged.

What Is the NJ Clean Slate Law?

To help individuals with criminal histories over a decade old, New Jersey passed the Clean Slate Law in 2019. This legislation allows individuals who previously were not able to expunge their records because they have multiple felony convictions to now request that they be expunged. The waiting period for eligibility to expunge a record under the Clean Slate Law is 10 years from the last conviction, release from incarceration, or completion of probation – whichever comes last. It is a step toward giving individuals with old convictions a fresh start.

However, it’s important to note that it does not apply to serious offenses such as:

Contact Our New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyers

If you’re concerned about what might show up on your background check in New Jersey or considering the option of having a conviction expunged, it is essential to seek reliable legal guidance. The experienced New Jersey criminal defense lawyers at William Proetta Criminal Law are available to answer your questions and help you understand your rights and legal options.

Please contact us today for a free and confidential case review to discuss your situation and start the journey toward a better future.

With more than a decade of experience defending clients against criminal charges, founding partner William A. Proetta has successfully handled and tried thousands of cases, from DWI to murder. As a New Jersey native, he has focused his career on helping people in the area where he grew up, serving Middlesex, Ocean, Hudson, and Union counties.