Alternative to Expungement in New Jersey: Certificates of Rehabilitation (“COR”) Pursuant to N.J.S.A 2A:168A-1

January 8, 2016

Due to the numerous statutory requirements that exist in order to obtain an expungement in New Jersey, many individuals are unfortunately not eligible to have their record expunged. This can be due to the fact that the have a disqualifying conviction, have to many convictions, or because they have not yet met the time requirement for expungement. If you are not eligible for expungement for any of these reasons, you may still be able to obtain a Certificate of Rehabilitation pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:168A-1.

Certificates of Rehabilitation are usually sought by individuals that have been denied a professional license due their criminal history. These professional licenses could include licenses to become a driving instructor, taxi cab driver, pharmacist, nurse, cosmetologist, plumber, physical therapist, physician’s assistant, court reporter, dentist, or an accountant, among others.

Certificates of Rehabilitation are presumptive evidence of rehabilitation. This means that if you are granted a Certificate of Rehabilitation under N.J.S.A. 2A:168A-1, then the applicable New Jersey licensing authority will be prohibited from denying you a license based solely on your criminal conviction. If, however, the licensing board find that: (1) there is a direct relationship between the conviction and the license being sought; and (2) the board establishes that issuing the license would involve an unreasonanle risk to property, individual safety, or risk to the general public, then the board may nonetheless deny you a license.

It should also be kept in mind that Certificates of Rehabilitation are not only available to individuals with professional licenses. Individuals who do not have professional licenses, but have been denied an expungement or are otherwise not eligible for expungement, are also free to apply for a Certificate of Rehabilitation. Indeed, CORs can often times prove very useful in demonstrating rehabilitation to potential employers. Unlike with licensing authorities for professional licenses, however, private employers are free to afford as much or as little weight as they want to CORs.

Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:168A, Certificates of Rehabilitation can be granted by the court at the time of sentencing if the sentence is non-custodial, meaning you were not sentenced to probation or incarceration. If you are sentenced to a custodial sentence, following sentencing Certificates of Rehabilitation can be granted either by the Parole Board (if were sentenced to imprisonment) or by the Probation Department (if were sentenced to probation).

Unlike with expungements, if you are granted a Certificate of Rehabilitation all court records will remain and your criminal record will be available to anyone conducting a criminal background check on you. In addition, a Certificate of Rehabilitation does not permit restore civil rights or permit you to purchase a firearm.

As can be seen, although Certificates of Rehabilitation are not the same as expungements, they are certainly a useful alternative to expungement in New Jersey. Obtaining the advice of a criminal defense lawyer regarding your qualifications for a COR is therefore highly advised. Contact the attorneys at the Law Office of Randolph H. Wolf today at 732-741-4448 for a free consultation.

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