Anyone who is eligible to have his or her criminal record in New Jersey expunged should seriously consider doing so. The ability to move beyond one’s mistakes and put the past in the past can be powerful and life-changing. It’s important to know, however, what it means to have one’s record expunged and what the full effect of an expungement entails.
The Crimes Are “Deemed Not to Have Occurred”
New Jersey law states that once a person has been granted an expungement, the arrest and conviction are “deemed not to have occurred.” This means that a person can legally deny ever having been arrested, charged, and convicted of the crime(s) in question. In addition, a person is no longer required to disclose the crime(s) on applications for:
- Employment (with some exceptions)
- Enrollment in college or other educational institutions
- Financial aid
- A professional license (except to practice law)
- Loans (for home, business, a car, etc.)
- Insurance (including life insurance, auto insurance, and homeowner’s insurance)
The records will also not show up in background checks. In most cases, it’s as though the crimes never took place—which is the whole point!
The Records Are Not Erased
Despite the fact that the records are “deemed not have occurred”, not all traces of the record are destroyed. In fact, files regarding expunged crimes are kept intact; they are simply isolated and moved to a secure location and made inaccessible to the general public. There are some groups that may be able to obtain access to those records, including immigration authorities and the courts themselves.
When Expunged Records Must be Disclosed
While the majority of the time a person will not need to disclose expunged records, there are times when it is required.
- When applying to law-related jobs. A person applying to jobs at a correctional facility, in law enforcement, or anywhere in the judicial system, must still disclose expunged crimes. In addition, expunged crimes must also be disclosed when applying for a license to practice law.
- In applications for future expungements. While a person cannot receive a second expungement for criminal convictions (see below), a person can continue to apply for expungement of municipal ordinances, arrest records, and records relating to offenses for which he/she was not convicted. Doing so requires the disclosure of previous expungements.
- When applying for diversion programs or supervisory treatment. A person who has already expunged records of such programs, including Conditional Discharge or Pre-Trial Intervention, must disclose the offense to the court when applying for another such program. Since a person can only be admitted to diversionary programs once, this disclosure would demonstrate that the person is ineligible.
Expunged Records and Reoffending
Expunged records can be pulled by the court if a person reoffends. In such cases, expunged records can be used in legal proceedings from determining bail and sentencing. If a person is convicted of future offenses, those records cannot be expunged.
If you or a loved one are worried about a pending criminal charge or in New York or New Jersey, or are interested in having a criminal record expunged (or sealed in NY), you should speak with an experienced attorney immediately. The lawyers of the Rosenblum Law Firm are skilled criminal defense attorneys with experience helping people in many different kinds of legal situations. Email the Rosenblum Law Firm or call 888-979-7551 today for a free consultation about your case.