Whether you're just beginning a career in banking in Pennsylvania or if you have a long-standing career in the industry, you probably already know that a criminal record can often hold you back. Under federal and state laws, banks are limited in whether they can hire people with certain financial-related crimes or those involving dishonesty or a "breach of trust." The reason is obvious – people must be able to trust those who look after their money. But in some cases, a mistake can ruin a career. Fortunately, Pennsylvania law offers some options to help you get a second chance and a clean start.
Banking Careers in Pennsylvania
The Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities regulates the finance and banking industries in Pennsylvania. This department requires all licensing applicants in the industry to complete a criminal history background check with the Pennsylvania State Police and an FBI fingerprint check as part of the process. You must complete your criminal history background check report no more than 30 days before submitting your licensing application.
Third-party background check reports must provide, at a minimum:
- A comprehensive credit report or history,
- Civil court and bankruptcy court records for the last five years, including searches of the county and state court records where you've lived,
- Criminal records for the last five years, including searches of the county and state records where you've lived.
The Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Finance will use your FBI fingerprints to check the criminal history records of the FBI.
Federal Rules Regarding Banking
Some federal laws also prevent banking institutions from hiring or retaining employees with criminal records. Under Section 19 of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act, a bank insured by the FDIC cannot hire someone convicted of a crime involving"dishonesty, breach of trust, or money laundering," without receiving consent from the FDIC.
In 2020, the federal government narrowed the list of potential banking employees who need FDIC consent. The rule now excludes all offenses expunged or sealed, changes waiting periods, and allows individuals with two "de minimis" or minor crimes to avoid Section 19.
If you have arrest records or criminal records in your past and you wish to work in banking, you may need to consider seeking an expungement of your records. Moreover, an attorney can advise you on your best course of action if you've faced a more recent arrest and you currently work in banking.
What is an Expungement?
An expungement is a Pennsylvania court order that removes criminal charges, arrest records, indictments, or other documents from public records and the Pennsylvania State Police Criminal Repository. An expungement order will also remove records from the FBI database.
Pennsylvania law only allows the expungement of records under some specific circumstances. However, if you don't qualify for expungement, you may be able to have your records sealed instead. Pennsylvania law allows expungement if:
- You weren't convicted of a crime, and you don't currently have any pending charges against you. This includes records of an arrest where the police dropped the charges, the court failed to convict you, and the court didn't dispose of your case within 18 months.
- You were convicted of purchasing, consuming, or possessing alcohol when you were under 21 and over 18. If you are now over 21, you may apply to have the record expunged.
- You resolved an offense with an Accelerative Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program. However, crime can't be related to a sex crime against a minor. Most ARD resolutions involve drug or alcohol-related charges.
- You were convicted of a summary offense. A summary offense is a lower-level offense that can't be punished by more than a fine and up to 90 days in jail. It must be at least five years since you completed your sentence, including paying any fines, and you can't have any current charges pending against you.
- You are at least 70, and ten years have passed since the criminal proceedings against you.
- You received a Governor's pardon for your conviction.
You may also be eligible to expunge some juvenile records. However, sex crimes against a minor are never eligible for expungement under Pennsylvania law. See 18 Pa. C.S.A. § 9122 (2019).
What is a Record Sealing?
If you aren't eligible to expunge your records, you may be able to seal them. UnderPennsylvania's Clean Slate Act of 2018, the court will not automatically seal some records. Automatically sealed records include:
- Arrest records if you were never convicted,
- Records of charges if the court found you not guilty,
- Records of nonviolent criminal convictions older than ten years, and
- Records of misdemeanor offenses involving less than two years in prison.
Some records can never be sealed, such as those involving serious or violent crimes like homicide, sexual assault, sex crimes involving a child, child endangerment, and other violent crimes.
Sealing records does remove your records from state criminal databases that the public can access, but they will still exist. If your employer must consider your criminal history under federal or state law or uses an FBI background check, they will still see your records. Law enforcement agencies, including state and federal agencies, can also access sealed criminal records. But routine background checks run by employers won't necessarily be able to access your sealed records. In many cases, you also aren't legally required to disclose sealed records. However, an attorney can give you the best advice concerning whether you must disclose a sealed record.
How Can an Attorney Help Me?
If you have a criminal or arrest record in the past that you'd like to have expunged, an experienced criminal defense attorney well versed in handling expungement and sealing actions can help. A lawyer can advise you on whether your criminal records may qualify for expungement or sealing, making the process faster and more efficient for you. Moreover, a lawyer can provide the necessary guidance on whether you must reveal expunged or sealed criminal convictions to an employer, the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Finance, or the FDIC under Section 19 of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the skilled legal team at the Lento Law Firm have helped many people in Pennsylvania wade through the expungement and sealing process, and they can help you too. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888.535.3686, or contact them online to schedule your consultation.