Being convicted of a crime can have a tremendous impact on your life. Not only do you pay fines and possibly serve jail time but you are also left with a criminal record of your arrest and conviction. These records are usually public information that prospective employers, landlords and other officials have access to. Many times people are denied job opportunities and loans based off of their criminal record.
The good news is that that in some instances, you may be able to get the records of your arrests and conviction expunged. An expungement is the removal of any record of an offense that you were charged with or convicted of in the State of New Jersey. This means that once expunged, these records are no longer disclosed to potential employers or landlords.
Getting an expungement is not an easy process and not all crimes and arrests can be expunged. What’s more you must meet certain requirements and allow for the appropriate waiting periods to pass (See below) before you can be deemed eligible. It is a good idea to discuss your case with an attorney and ask if they can help you 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 indictable offense during the course of his entire lifetime will be eligible for an expungement. In other words, if you were convicted of two indictable offenses, you cannot seek an expungement. Nevertheless, you will not be disqualified if you have two or fewer disorderly persons offenses on your record.
If you are eligible for an expungement, you then must make sure that your offense is one that can be expunged.
The following crimes CANNOT be expunged:
- Aggravated Criminal Sexual Conduct
- Aggravated Sexual Assault
- Death By Auto
- Endangering the Welfare of a Child
- False Imprisonment
- False Swearing
- Forcible Sodomy
- Luring or Enticing
- Attempting to Commit Any of the Crimes Listed Here
- 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.
How Long Do I Have To Wait Before I Can Have My Criminal Record Expunged?
Except for arrest records that result in a dismissal (can be expunged immediately) all other offenses and convictions require a waiting period before it can be expunged depending on the offense. Below is a table showing the basic requirements and waiting periods necessary before you are eligible for an expungement. Remember that anyone with more than one indictable conviction is not eligible for an expungement.
OFFENSE/CONVICTION TO BE EXPUNGED
PREREQUISITE BEFORE WAITING PERIOD
|Arrests||Must result in dismissal||None|
|Disorderly Persons (DP) Offenses||Must complete prison sentence and payment of fines (not allowed more than 3 DPs)||5 years|
|Petty Disorderly Persons Offenses||Must complete prison sentence and payment of fines (not allowed more than 3 petty DPs)||5 years|
|Indictable Conviction||Must complete prison sentence and payment of fines (cannot have more than 2 DP convictions)||10 years|
|Municipal Ordinances||Must complete prison sentence and payment of fines||2 years|
|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|
How Do I Get My Offense Expunged?
Now that you know you are eligible for an expungement and your offense can be expunged, we can help you make it happen. It is highly recommended that you hire an attorney to help you with all of the administrative red tape and any court appearances that may be required in order to get your record expunged.
Doing it alone can result in untimely or improperly filed documentation that has the potential to ruin your chances of getting the results you want. Before you can file for an expungement, there are a few initial requirements that you must meet.
N.J.S.A. 2C:52-7 requires you to tie up any loose ends related to your offense. For instance, you are required to wait 10 years after the date of your conviction, 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 you wait the requisite period of time, you 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 you need to get your life in order. Be sure to contact an attorney who can help you.
Even if you are fully capable of filling out the forms, it is still extremely important to hire an attorney when it comes time for your hearing. An experienced criminal defense attorney will know what to say, how to present your case in the most favorable light, and get you the results you want.