How Do I Expunge My
Record In New Jersey
WHAT IS AN EXPUNGEMENT?
Under NJSA 2C:52-1, a person can expunge or remove certain criminal records or arrests from their criminal record or criminal history. If an order of expungement is granted, the arrest, conviction and any proceedings related to your arrest and crime will be as if it never happened.
WHAT TYPE OF RECORDS ARE EXPUNGED IN NEW JERSEY?
An expungement can seek to have complaints, warrants, arrests, commitments, processing records, photographs, fingerprints, index cards, rap sheets, or proceedings in court called judicial docket records.
CAN ALL CRIMES BE EXPUNGED FROM MY RECORD?
No. The law in New Jersey is very specific as to what types of charges can be expunged from your record. Additionally, there are limitations as to how many of certain types of offenses or crimes can be expunged. An experienced lawyer can review your criminal history with you and determine if you are eligible now or if you will be eligible in the future.
WHAT CRIMES CAN NOT BE EXPUNGED?
- Criminal homicide (NJSA 2C:11-1)
- Kidnapping (NJSA 2C:13-1)
- Luring or Enticing (NJSA 2C:13-6)
- Human trafficking (NJSA 2C:13-8)
- Aggravated sexual assault (NJSA 2C:14-2)
- Aggravated criminal sexual contact (NJSA 2C:14-3a)
- Criminal sexual contact (NJSA 2C:14-3b)
- Criminal restraint (NJSA 2C:13-2)
- False imprisonment (NJSA 2C:13-3)
- Robbery (NJSA 2C:15-1)
- Arson and related offenses (NJSA 2C:17-1)
- Endangering welfare of child by engaging in sexual contact (NJSA 2C:24-4a)
- Endangering welfare of child (NJSA 2C:24-4b(4))
- Causing or permitting child to engage in prohibited sexual act (NJSA 2C:24-4b)
- Selling or manufacturing child pornography (NJSA 2C:24-4b.(5)(a))
- Perjury (NJSA 2C:28-1)
- False Swearing (NJSA 2C:28-2)
- Knowingly promoting prostitution of actor’s child (NJSA 2C:34-1b.(4))
- Terrorism (NJSA 2C:38-2)
- Producing or possessing chemical weapons/bio agents/nuclear or radiological devices (NJSA 2C:38-3)
- Official misconduct (NJSA 2C:30-2)
- Sale or distribution of CDS or possession of CDS with intent to sell that is 1st or 2nd degree, or marijuana over 1 ounce, or hashish over 5 grams
- Conspiracies or attempts to commit such crimes
- A crime committed by a person holding a public office type position if it involved or touched upon that public position
TIME PERIOD WHEN ELIGIBLE FOR EXPUNGEMENT
Dismissal: immediate application available
Dismissal after PTI or conditional discharge completed: 6 months from order of dismissal
Ordinance: 2 years
Disorderly Persons/Petty Disorderly Persons: 5 years
Indictable Offense/Crime: 5 years
Clean Slate: 10 years
WHEN DOES THE CLOCK START TICKING?
The time period noted above for ordinances, disorderly persons offenses, petty disorderly persons offenses, indictable matters and crimes all begin to run after the absolute last event in your matter. Say for example you plead guilty to a degree’d crime and had to do 1 year of probation, pay fines and restitution. If your probation finished on July 1, 2013, but you never paid your fines, the clock will not start running yet because you still have outstanding things to do. If you finally pay your fines off on September 5, 2013, you will then have to wait 5 years from that time to be eligible for an expungement. There are a few exceptions of course when it comes to the reason why a fine is not paid.
CAN YOU REQUEST THAT YOUR MATTER BE EXPUNGED EARLY?
As of right now, the law allows for indictable matters/crimes and disorderly persons/petty disorderly persons offenses to be expunged early if certain guidelines are met. However, it is not a guarantee that you can have it expunged early because even if you meet all of the qualifications, a judge will need to state that it is in the public interest to allow you to expunge your matter early. This is a very high standard and is very subjective depending on which county and which judge is hearing your matter.
HOW LONG DOES THE EXPUNGEMENT PROCESS TAKE IN NEW JERSEY?
The length of the process varies slightly by county because each county has different levels of crime they need to deal with that can take time away from handling expungement matters. Additionally, each county has different staffing issues in the prosecutor’s office, which again, could delay how fast your expungement petition is reviewed. On average, from the time the petition is filed until the order is signed and your record is removed from the system, can take 12 months. This is partially due to the NJ State Police not having enough resources to remove the record once a signed expungement order is provided to them. You will likely receive a signed court order allowing the record to be expunged anywhere from 4-6 months after the petition is filed. It then takes another 6 months for the NJ State Police to remove the record. This delay in removing the record is what causes the process to take almost 12 months.
WHAT IS THE PROCESS TO EXPUNGE YOUR CRIMINAL RECORD?
If you do not have all of the information pertaining to the arrest and charge you want expunged, you need to obtain that information either from the court where the matter occurred or from your criminal record. Once you have that information, a petition and all supporting documents are filed with the court. The court will file the petition and set a court hearing. Once that court hearing is set, all necessary governmental agencies are notified of the petition being filed. If none of the governmental agencies object to your expungement, a hearing will occur and the order will be signed. The order must be served on specific governmental departments in order to have your record removed.
DO I NEED AN ATTORNEY FOR AN EXPUNGEMENT?
That is up to you. An experienced lawyer who knows how to handle the expungement process will help you get the matter done right from the start so the process goes smoothly. An attorney knows who to contact when things are delayed and how to get things moving to push your matter ahead. We charge a flat rate to handle an expungement based on the complexity of your petition. That being said, if you can read and follow instructions, you can absolutely handle it on your own. The Superior Courts in New Jersey can provide you with an expungement packet that will explain what you need to do. We often suggest that a client reads the packet first to make a determination if they want to pursue the process on their own.
HOW DO I OBTAIN MY CRIMINAL CASE HISTORY?
You can obtain your own criminal case history at one of the NJ approved locations by making an appointment to have your fingerprints taken electronically. Morpho Trak, Inc. has contracted with the NJ State Police to take live scan fingerprints of individuals interested in obtaining their record. You can go to Morpho Trak, Inc.’s website to schedule an appointment. If you do not have internet access, you can also call them to make an appointment at 877-503-5981.
Call us today at 609-392-7600 to see if you are eligible for an expungement. If you are not eligible under one of the main statutes, you could be eligible for a clean slate expungement.
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