Expunging a Criminal Record for an Investment Career

Landing a job in the financial sector is often the culmination of a long journey involving college, graduate school, intense training, and possibly an MBA or other advanced degree. Careers in investment and finance can be rewarding and lucrative. But if you have a criminal record, it can derail your career before it even begins. Fortunately, in Pennsylvania, lawmakers understand that everyone makes mistakes. As a result, Pennsylvania law offers people with arrest or criminal records some options to correct past mistakes and clean up their records through expungement.

What is Expungement?

A criminal record can affect future job prospects in finance and many other careers. Many employers will perform a criminal background check as a condition of employment. But for some jobs in the financial sector, federal law prohibits employers from hiring individuals with a criminal record. Moreover, if you have a criminal record or even an arrest record, it can disqualify you from obtaining a license as a financial advisor, stockbroker, or other finance careers in some situations. It can also prevent certain financial employers from hiring you under federal law.

Fortunately, under Pennsylvania law, you may be able to obtain an expungement from a court ordering the destruction of certain arrest or criminal records. An experienced Pennsylvania expungement attorney like Joseph D. Lento can advise you about your options and guide you through the process.

Investment Careers and Licensing in Pennsylvania

To work as a financial advisor, stockbroker, or many other investment jobs in Pennsylvania, you must meet certain state licensing requirements. The requirements for all finance-related licenses are similar in Pennsylvania.

Finance-Related Professional Licensing

A financial advisor is a licensed individual called an "investment advisor representative" (IAR). In Pennsylvania, IARs must be licensed and follow the state's professional guidelines. To obtain a license as an IAR in Pennsylvania, you'll need to follow the application process set forth by the Pennsylvania Securities Commission, which is under the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities. The Pennsylvania Securities Act governs all investment firms that offer most of their services in Pennsylvania and handle less than $100 million in assets. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) oversees firms handling over $100 million in assets.

Becoming a licensed IAR in Pennsylvania includes an exam and application. As part of the application, you will complete Form U-4, including your educational, professional, and personal background information. The U-4 form will also ask:

Have you ever:

  • been convicted of or pled guilty or nolo contendere ("no contest") in a domestic, foreign, or military court to any felony?
  • been charged with any felony?
    Based upon activities that occurred while you exercised control over it, has an organization ever:
  • been convicted of or pled guilty or nolo contendere ("no contest") in a domestic or foreign court to any felony?
  • been charged with any felony?

Have you ever:

  • been convicted of or pled guilty or nolo contendere ("no contest") in a domestic, foreign or military court to a misdemeanor involving: investments or an investment-related business or any fraud, false statements or omissions, wrongful taking of property, bribery, perjury, forgery, counterfeiting, extortion, or a conspiracy to commit any of these offenses?
  • been charged with a misdemeanor specified in 14B(1)(a)?
  • Based upon activities that occurred while you exercised control over it, has an organization ever:
  • been convicted of or pled guilty or nolo contendere ("no contest") in a domestic or foreign court to a misdemeanor specified in 14B(1)(a)?
  • been charged with a misdemeanor specified in 14B(1)(a)?

So, the licensing application is most concerned with felony charges and convictions as well as misdemeanor charges and convictions involving investment and financial-related crimes or crimes implicating honesty or moral turpitude.

After receiving your IAR license, you will be responsible for maintaining the accuracy of your form U-4. You should inform your employer's Super Accountant Administrator of any changes, including any:

  • Changes to your jurisdiction,
  • Complaints from customers,
  • Name changes,
  • Disciplinary actions,
  • Other business activities,
  • Additional education or certifications,
  • Address changes,
  • Civil judgments against you, and
  • Changes to your criminal record.

As a result, if you're arrested or convicted of a crime while holding a finance-related professional license in Pennsylvania, you must inform your employer.

Who Can Obtain an Expungement?

If you have a criminal or arrest history in Pennsylvania and want to work in finance, you may be able to expunge your record in some limited circumstances. You can expunge your record if:

  • You were arrested but never convicted of a charge,
  • You were convicted of selling, purchasing, or consuming alcohol while underage, and you are now over 21,
  • You completed an Accelerative Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program for a crime not related to a sex crime against a minor, or
  • You were convicted of a summary offense, which is a low-level offense only punishable by a fine and no more than 90 days in jail.

See 18 Pa. C.S.A. § 9122 (2019). An attorney can advise you on whether you qualify for an expungement and whether enough time has passed for an expungement. Even if you don't qualify, you may be able to have your record sealed instead.

What is Record Sealing?

Sealing your record may also be an option. While sealing doesn't destroy your arrest or criminal records like an expungement, it does remove your record from the public record. In many cases, you won't be legally required to reveal a sealed record to your employer.

Under Pennsylvania's Clean Slate Act of 2018, the state will automatically seal some records, including:

  • Arrest records with no conviction,
  • Charges if you were found not guilty,
  • Nonviolent criminal convictions ten years or older, and
  • Misdemeanor offenses involving less than two years in jail.

An experienced Pennsylvania expungement lawyer can advise you on whether you must reveal sealed records when applying for professional licensing in the finance field.

How Can an Attorney Help Me?

If you have an arrest record or a criminal record in Pennsylvania and are concerned about whether you can work as a licensed financial advisor, stockbroker, or other finance professional, you need experienced legal guidance. A Pennsylvania attorney well versed in handling expungement and sealing records can advise you of your options and handle the entire process quickly and efficiently. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his skilled legal team at the Lento Law Firm have been helping Pennsylvanians obtain expungement and sealing orders for years, and they can help you too. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888.535.3686 to schedule a consultation, or contact them online.

Contact Us Today!

Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the Lento Law Firm today! Criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

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