Being charged with or convicted of a crime can have a tremendous impact on one’s life. Not only must the person pay fines and possibly serve jail time but he/she is also left with a criminal record of the arrest and conviction. These records are usually public information that prospective employers, landlords and other officials have access to. Often, people are denied job opportunities and loans based off of their criminal record.
The good news is that in some instances, the records of the arrest and conviction can be expunged. An expungement is the extraction and isolation of an offense that a person was charged with or convicted of in the State of New Jersey. Once expunged these records are no longer discoverable by potential employers or landlords.
Getting an expungement is not an easy process and not all crimes and arrests can be expunged. What’s more, the applicant must meet certain requirements and allow for the appropriate waiting periods to pass (see below) before being deemed eligible. It is a good idea to discuss a potential case with an attorney and ask if they can help with this complex process.
Am I Eligible for an Expungement?
Under N.J.S.A. 2C:52-7, a person who has committed only one (or no) indictable offense during the course of his entire lifetime will be eligible for an expungement. In other words, someone who was convicted of two or more indictable offenses cannot seek an expungement except under very specific conditions (see below). Nevertheless, a person will not be disqualified if he/she has four or fewer disorderly persons offenses on their record.
Someone who is eligible for an expungement must also make sure that the offense is one that can be expunged. The following crimes are NOT expungeable:
NJ Offenses Not Eligible for Expungement
|Aggravated Criminal Sexual Conduct||Kidnapping|
|Aggravated Sexual Assault||Luring or Enticing|
|Death by Auto||Rape|
|Endangering the Welfare of a Child||Treason|
|False Imprisonment||Attempting to Commit Any of the Crimes Listed Here|
|False Swearing||Aiding, Assisting, or Concealing People Accused of the Crimes Listed Here|
Although this looks like an extremely long list, it is crucial to note that simple drug possession, shoplifting, weapons violations, and even burglary are not on the list. This means that each of those offenses (and quite a few more) can be expunged.
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How Long Do I Have to Wait Before I Can Have My Criminal Record Expunged?
Except for arrest records that result in a dismissal (which can be expunged immediately) all other offenses and convictions require a waiting period before they can be expunged. Beginning Oct. 1, 2018, New Jersey will put into effect new rules regarding the wait time and other requirements for expungement. Below is a table showing the new requirements and waiting periods necessary before a person can be deemed eligible for an expungement. Remember that anyone with more than one indictable conviction is not eligible for an expungement except in specific circumstances (see below).
|Offense/Conviction to be Expunged||Prerequisite Before Waiting Period||Waiting Period
(as of Oct. 1, 2018)
|Arrests||Must result in dismissal||None|
|Pre-Trial Intervention||Must complete program||6 months|
|Conditional Discharges related to Drug Offenses||Must complete program||6 months|
|Any Drug Possession Case and Certain Distribution Offenses Between 18 and 21 Years Old||Must complete prison sentence and payment of fines||1 year|
|Municipal Ordinances||Must complete prison sentence and payment of fines. There is no limit to how many can be expunged.||2 years|
|Disorderly Persons (DP) Offenses||Must complete prison sentence and payment of fines (not allowed more than 4 DPs)||5 years|
|Indictable Conviction||Must complete prison sentence and payment of fines (cannot have more than 3 DP convictions)||6 years|
|More than one Indictable Conviction||All felony convictions must either be part of a single judgement conviction OR were interdependent/closely related in circumstances and committed as part of a sequence of events in a short period of time.||6 years|
|Juvenile Offenses||Must complete prison sentence and payment of fines (cannot have been adjudged a juvenile delinquent or been convicted of an adult crime||3 years|
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Can I Get an Expungement if I Have Already Completed a Pre-Trial Intervention Program?
Starting Oct. 1, 2018, New Jersey will allow expungements of felony or disorderly persons convictions for those who have already completed a Pre-Trial Intervention Program (PTI). Previously, having entered a PTI program made one ineligible to expunge any other convictions unrelated to the PTI charge. This barrier has now been lifted.
How Do I Get My Offense Expunged?
Once it is determined that a person is eligible for an expungement and that the offense can be expunged, an attorney can help make it happen. It is highly recommended that anyone seeking an expungement hire an attorney to help with all of the administrative red tape and any court appearances that may be required in order to get the record expunged.
Doing it alone can result in untimely or improperly filed documentation. This could ruin the chances of getting the right results. Before a person can file for an expungement, there are a few initial requirements that he/she must meet.
N.J.S.A. 2C:52-7 requires an applicant to fulfill any obligations or mandates related to the offense. For instance, he/she is required to wait a specific period of time after the date of conviction (see the chart above), release from prison, payment of a fine, or satisfactory completion of probation or parole (whichever is later) before applying for an expungement of that offense.
After waiting the requisite wait time, the person must fill out a petition for expungement, order for a hearing, expungement order, and proof of notice. All of that must be mailed along with a filing fee to the applicable court. Remember, an expungement can be exactly what a person needs to get their life in order. That’s why it is so important that one get an attorney to ensure the process is done correctly.
Even if a person is fully capable of filling out the forms, it is still extremely important to hire an attorney to maximize the chances of success. Remember: Any documentation that is left out or filed improperly can lead to delays or result in a denial. An attorney with experience applying for expungements will be able to assess eligibility and ensure all forms and other requirements are in order.
Who Should I Contact?
If you or a loved one wants to have their criminal record expunged, contact the attorneys of the Rosenblum Law Firm today. Our skilled criminal defense attorneys have helped many people in similar situations. They will defend your constitutional rights and fight to have your criminal record expunged. E-mail or call us today at 888-815-3649.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How long does the expungement process take?
The process can take six to eight months, depending on several factors, including the offense(s) in question, how old the case is, and whether the prosecutor objects.
- Can I get an expungement if I have completed a pre-trial intervention?
Yes. The arrest and PTI completion will both show up on background checks, but both can be expunged six months after completing the program.
- Does the expungement process require me to go to court?
It depends. If a hearing is required for the case, an attorney can appear on the petitioner’s behalf. In rare cases, the judge may specifically request the presence of the petitioner. If that is not possible, an attorney can file a motion to request the appearance be excused.
- What happens after my record is expunged?
A person who has had their record expunged can legally deny the conviction or arrest ever existed. The records will not be released to the general public.
- Can my record ever be seen after it is expunged?
Yes. An expunged record is not erased. Anyone who receives an expungement but is later charged with another crime could have their record opened by the judge and/or prosecutors, depending on the circumstances. In addition, immigration agencies and military bodies will still have access to expunged records.