Criminal Background Checks in New Jersey

Nick Fishman

I found an article on NorthJersey.com about the importance of conducting a background check on new employees and I thought it would be a good idea to discuss criminal background checks in the state of New Jersey. Of course, I agree that it is a good practice to conduct background checks wherever you are located however, I believe that employers also need to know what type of information they can obtain.

In the state of New Jersey’s case, did you know that misdemeanor convictions are not made publicly available in the Upper Courts? Therefore a standard criminal background check in the Upper Court in this state will not include such convictions. You can still get felonies, but misdemeanors are not provided. Misdemeanors convictions are maintained in the municipal courts, but since there are so many of these courts, you would have to check all of them to identify any criminal records. Therefore, the only realistic way to research misdemeanor convictions is to know that they exist and in what court they were prosecuted.

This wouldn’t cause me to tell employers to abandon their screening practices when hiring in this state, it’s just important to have all the facts. I don’t know why the state has done this, but I strongly disagree with the policy. It makes the process that much more difficult for employers that want to evaluate such convictions before making an informed hiring decision.

Nick Fishman
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Nick Fishman

Nick Fishman is the co-founder of EmployeeScreenIQ, a leading, global employment background screening provider, and serves as the company’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer. He pioneered the creation of EmployeeScreen University, the #1 educational resource on employment background checks for human resources, security and risk management professionals. A recognized industry expert, Nick is a frequent author, presenter and contributor to the news media. Nick is also a licensed private investigator in the states of Ohio and Texas.
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  • Anonymous

    Nick, Is there some legilative statute to back up your claim?

    The misdemeanears indexes may not be publicly availabe but the muncipal courts are required to provide specific case court files under the FOIA; if you know a speicific cases exists.

    i.e. Request a police record search and if an arrest record is found you can go to the Municpal court and get the disposition of that arrest.

    Most arresting agencies in NJ will complete a search if the request includes a release from the applicant.

  • Nick Fishman

    Thank you to the anonymous reader for pointing out the error in my post. I errantly indicated that misdemeanor records in the state of New Jersey were not maintainted as part of the “public record”. This statement is untrue and I will modify the post accordingly. I should have indicated that misdemeanor records are not made “publicly available” and that finding them is far more challenging than just walking into the court houses.

    I apologize for the error and appreciate the feedback.