Q: What is an expungement?
A: An expungement is the removal and isolation of all records on file within any court, detention or correctional facility, law enforcement, criminal justice agency or juvenile justice agency concerning a person’s apprehension, arrest, detention, trial or disposition of an offense within the criminal or juvenile justice system.
Q: Why should I have my record expunged?
A: Most employers will not hire someone with a criminal record. Having your criminal record expunged can mean the difference between getting the job and not getting a job. Additionally, some employers may refuse to advance your position within the company if you have a criminal record. Now a days, most employers do a criminal background check before hiring an employee. With so many applicants, employers can be picky and choose to hire those without a criminal record. Can you afford to not get another job because of something you did in the past? Most of the time, the criminal record that is holding you back is a result of something stupid you did when you were younger. You no longer engage in this type of activity, however, it still continues to haunt you. Having your record expunged will take care of this problem.
Q: What is the process to have a record expunged?
A: First, you need to know all of the important details concerning the charge that you plead guilty to. If you do not have this information, we can assist you in obtaining your criminal record history. Once we have this information, a petition is filed in the superior court in the county where your arrest or prosecution took place. In some instances, this may not be the same county in which you currently live. A copy of the petition is sent to all of the governmental entities who were involved or may have an interest in your record being expunged. Assuming none of those entities object to your petition for expungement, a judge will decide whether or not to grant your request for an expungement of your record. If granted, a notice to remove your record must be sent to all of the same governmental entities previously notified.
Q: How do I know if I am eligible to have my record expunged?
A: Not all criminal convictions or guilty pleas can be expunged. Therefore, it is important to discuss your particular criminal record with an experienced attorney. The following types of matters can be expunged: arrests not resulting in conviction, ordinance violations, disorderly persons offenses, juvenile delinquency offenses and indictable offenses. Be advised that there is a different waiting period for expungement depending on the level of crime you were convicted of. Additionally, there are limitations on the number of matters you can have expunged.
Q: What types of matters cannot be expunged?
A: There are several criminal convictions that cannot be expunged. Those include: criminal homicide (except death by automobile), criminal sexual contact if the victim is a minor, aggravated criminal sexual contact, aggravated sexual assault, kidnapping, false swearing, perjury, robbery, criminal restraint, luring or enticing, and endangering the welfare of a child if it is based on sexual contact. Additionally, not all convictions for sale or distribution of a controlled dangerous substance or possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute or sell are eligible for expungement. Typically, unless your drug charge involves 25 grams or less of marijuana or 5 grams or less of hashish, it is not expungable. That means that conviction for distribution or sale of heroin or cocaine are not eligible for expungement.
Q: How do I know when I am eligible for an expungement?
A: The following is a guideline to assist you in determining if you matter is ready for expungement. However, you should always consult an attorney to make a proper determination since the statute governing expungements may have changed.
Arrests not resulting in conviction: 6 month waiting period if dismissed as a result of a diversionary program. Otherwise, no waiting period.
Ordinance violations: 2 years from the date of completion of supervision.
Juvenile delinquency offenses: 5 years from the date of completion of supervision.
Disorderly persons offenses: 5 years from the date of completion of supervision.
Indictable offenses: 10 years from the date of completion of supervision.
Q: If my expungement is granted, what will be removed from my record?
A: If an order for expungement is granted by the court, the adult arrest, records of law enforcement taking you into custody, conviction, adjudication, disposition and any related proceedings are considered not to have occurred.
Q: If my record is expunged, will I be able to state that I do not have a criminal history when completing job applications?
A: Once your record is properly expunged, you WILL NOT need to inform a potential employer of your expunged criminal record. Therefore, if the job application asks if you have ever been convicted of a crime, you will be able to check the “no” or “none” box once your record is expunged. However, if you are ever questioned by the police or similar governmental agency, you may need to inform them that you have an expunged record.
Q: How long does the expungement process take?
A: You should allow approximately 6-9 months for the entire process to be completed. Sometimes the process moves much faster. However, each county has a different number of expungement petitions to review in addition to their regular criminal docket.