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Arrested for shoplifting but lowered to an ordinance. What can they see on a background check?

Piscataway, NJ |

I was arrested for shoplifting in 2011 and the court lowered it to a local ordinance. I was just hired at a hospital but they just called me in reference to my background check. The question on the application was apparently worded "Have you even been convicted of anything besides a minor traffic offense?" which I put "no" not thinking about the ordinance charge. I told them it was a mistake and that it was just a minor offense which I paid a fine for. They now say that they may terminate my employment. Can they see that I was arrested on my background check? Can they see that I was arrested specifically for shoplifting?

Attorney Answers 5


  1. Probably yes. Many employers use an outside vendor to gather criminal background information, and they do a relatively thorough job. There are some limits on how employers are supposed to use that information. However, you could lose your job for providing false information on your job application, even if the criminal offense itself would not have kept you from getting the job. You might be able to persuade your employer that you didn't consider the the issue a "conviction." Going forward, a good rule of thumb is to be scrupulously accurate on job applications. Good luck.

    My answers to questions posted on AVVO are intended to provide general information only, and are not intended to be legal advice. Employment law issues typically require a careful case-by-case analysis. Consequently, if you feel that you need legal advice, I would encourage you to consult in person with an employment attorney in your area.


  2. You have an arrest record for a disorderly persons violation and a conviction record for a municipal ordinance. The municipal ordinance is not a traffic offense so the hospital could say you falsified your application. Municipal ordinances can be expunged after two years. You said this happened in 2011 so you may already be eligible. See the link below for more info on expungements.

    This information is intended as general information and not legal advice. Contact me at 609-384-3770 for more information.


  3. The arrest for shoplifting is on your CCH. The ordinance conviction likely is not. You can expunge the arrest 2 years after you paid off the fine. I would consider an ordinance more than a minor trafic ticket.


  4. The arrest will certainly show up on a background check. Do expunge it as soon as possible.

    973-984-0800. Please be advised my answers to questions does not constitute legal advise and you should not rely on it, due to the fact that we have never met, I have not been aprised of the facts in you case nor have I reviewed any documents.


  5. Arguably, you gave false information on your application, which is grounds for termination anywhere. I urge you to have your arrest expunged as soon as possible.

    A response to a question posted on Avvo is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. It is informational only. Allan E. Richardson, Esq. arichardson@employmentlaw-nj.com Richardson, Galella & Austermuhl 142 Emerson ST., Woodbury, NJ 08096 856-579-7045.

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