Expungements of Criminal Records in New Jersey
We understand that good people sometimes make bad mistakes. Bad mistakes, however, have consequences. One of those consequences may be a criminal record of an arrest, charge and/or conviction. Even if you entered into a diversionary program where you had the benefit of a dismissal of a case (such as in a municipal conditional dismissal program, conditional discharge program for CDS offenses, or Pre-trial intervention (PTI)), the record of your arrest, charge and participation in the program may still exist.
Aside from the embarrassment that you may face, a criminal record may affect your employment and you may even be barred from certain professional licensing opportunities or government employment. Your ability to become a teacher, nurse, work in the financial sector, earn a real estate license, or enter the US Military may be affected. Additionally, if you are not a citizen of the United States, a criminal record may have an adverse impact on your immigration status or your ability to become a naturalized United States citizen.
Criminal records are maintained by the local police departments who enter and upload the information to a central database that is maintained by the NJ State Police. The State shares the information with the national database (NCIC) maintained by the Federal Bureau of Identification (FBI).
Notwithstanding an arrest, charge, and / or conviction, if your records are successfully expunged, you may truthfully and accurately respond under NJ law that you have never been arrested, charged or convicted of an offense. Your criminal records will be removed from the criminal record keeping system. A background check should not reveal any criminal record or the fact of the expungement. Instead, the only result that should appear is that there is NO CRIMINAL RECORDS FOUND.
Pursuant to NJSA 2C:52-1 et seq, you are generally eligible to expunge your records:
(a) If upon an arrest or charge that is dismissed without entry into a diversionary program, you may apply for an expungement immediately;
(b) If upon a dismissal of charge after a diversionary program, you may apply for an expungement six (6) months after satisfactory completion of the program;
(c) If upon a conviction of a municipal ordinance violation, you may apply for an expungement if more than two (2) years have passed from the date of conviction;
(d) If upon a conviction of a petty disorderly or disorderly person’s offense, you may apply for an expungement if more than five (5) years have passed from the date you completed your sentencing requirements (e.g. paid all fines, released from jail or completed probation); and
(e) If upon a conviction of a felony, you may apply for an expungement if more than ten (10) yeas have passed from the date you completed your sentencing requirements (e.g. Paid all fines, released from prison or completed probation).
In addition to the above, there are certain circumstances wherein you may apply for an expungement of a felony conviction after five (5) years have passed if you meet certain statutory requirements and if the court in its discretion deems that it is in the public interest to grant the expungement, considering the nature of the underlying offense and your character and conduct following the conviction.
Juvenile records may also be expunged if they generally meet the requirements for eligibility for expungement for adults.
You may not expunge and will be ineligible to expunge your records for certain types of offenses:
(a) Homicide – NJSA 2C:11-1 (except in the case of death y auto – NJSA 2C:11-5)
(b) Kidnapping – NJSA 2C:13-1
(c) Luring – NJSA 2C:13-6
(d) Aggravated Sexual Assault – NJSA 2C:14-2
(e) Aggravated Criminal Sexual Contact – NJSA 2C:14-3a
(f) Criminal Restraint upon a victim who is a minor – NJSA 2C:13-2
(g) False imprisonment upon a victim who is a minor – NJSA 2C:13-3
(h) Robbery – NJSA 2C:15-2
(i) Arson – NJSA 2C:17-1
(j) Endangering the welfare of child NJSA 2C:24-4a / NJSA 2C:24-4b(4)
(k) Perjury – NJSA 2C:28-1
(l) False Swearing – NJSA 2C:28-2
In addition to the above specific offenses, you may not expunge and will be ineligible to expunge an offense if:
(a) You have more than one (1) felony conviction or you have one (1) felony conviction and more than two disorderly persons convictions;
(b) The conviction if for the sale, distribution or possession with intent to distribute CDS. *In certain circumstances you may still be able to expunge, if the offense is for third or fourth degree and if the court in its discretion deems that it is in the public interest to grant the expungement, considering the nature of the underlying offense and your character and conduct following the conviction;
(c) There are more than three (3) disorderly person or petty disorderly person offenses; or
(d) There was a prior charge that was dismissed by way of a diversionary program.
The expungement process from beginning to end may take anywhere between three to five months to complete. In certain situations there may be objections filed by the State that must be answered and argued before the court.
The process begins with a petition for expungement that is filed with the Superior Court of New Jersey. The petition sets forth the facts of the petitioner’s eligibility for expungement and is signed by both the petitioner and the representing attorney. A copy of the filed petition and an order setting forth the hearing date is then served upon all the relevant agencies, such as (a) the State Police, (b) Attorney General’s Office, (c) county prosecutor, (d) local police department. If there are no objections prior to the hearing date and if the Court deems the petition to be legally satisfactory, an Order of Expungement will be entered by the Superior Court. That Order is then to be served upon the relevant agencies. The State Police will provide a confirmation of the removal of records. The removal of records will also be reported by the State to the National Database maintained by the FBl.
The above is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. For more information or to consult with our attorneys, please feel free to contact The Choi Law Group, LLC.