Having a criminal conviction on your record can negatively impact every facet of your life, from getting a job to getting into college to getting approved for an apartment. Fortunately, one mistake doesn’t have to haunt you forever. You may be entitled to pursue an expungement, which removes your criminal record from public access, making it easier to move your life forward in a positive direction.
Getting a criminal record expunged can be complicated, though. There are a number of factors that need to be taken into account to determine whether a conviction is eligible for expungement. A New Jersey expungement attorney from Keith Oliver Criminal Law can review your case for free and explain your best options for removing your criminal record from public view.
If you are ready to start with a clean slate, we want to hear from you. Contact us today for a free consultation.
What Is Expungement?
Expungement is a process in which an individual’s legal record of an arrest or conviction is essentially removed. The conviction no longer appears on a defendant’s record, and details are not available in public records. Additionally, the defendant no longer has to disclose a conviction after it is expunged.
In New Jersey, an expungement includes the “removal, sealing, impounding, or isolation of all records on file” within a court, correctional facility, or other related agency. Your criminal record is removed from public access, meaning potential landlords, employers, and background check companies cannot see it.
Note that when you have a criminal record expunged, it is not forgiveness for the crime committed, also referred to as a “pardon.” However, it is illegal for anyone to disclose an arrest or conviction that has been expunged.
What Crimes Can Be Expunged in New Jersey?
According to the New Jersey Courts, you can expunge no more than one indictable crime conviction and up to five disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offenses. You may also be able to expunge:
- Arrests that did not result in a conviction
- Recovery (drug) court
- Certain marijuana-related offenses
- Your entire record
There are many other crimes, however, that cannot be expunged from a criminal record. They include:
- Criminal homicide
- Sexual offenses
- Human trafficking
- Crimes involving child welfare
- False imprisonment
- Perjury or false swearing
If you’re unsure of whether your criminal conviction is eligible for expungement, it is best to discuss your situation with a trusted New Jersey expungement attorney. Contact Keith Oliver Criminal Law to talk about the specific circumstances of your case.
New Jersey Expungement Requirements
Certain requirements must be met to seek an expungement. First, it’s important to know that a New Jersey court will only have jurisdiction over the records of crimes committed in New Jersey. It’s also important to know that most serious or violent crimes are ineligible, as are crimes committed by public officials.
In addition, an individual can only expunge a certain number of eligible crimes. For example, per N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:52-2, a person can only expunge one indictable offense and three disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offenses in their lifetime, unless the convictions were closely related. A person can expunge up to five disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offenses in their lifetime if they have no indictable convictions. A judge may also take into consideration whether multiple convictions are closely related or occurred at the same time.
Ultimately, the type and number of offenses you have incurred will have an impact on your eligibility for filing an expungement, as well as the length of time that has passed since the conviction.
New Jersey Expungement Waiting Time
Depending on your conviction, you will have to wait a certain amount of time before filing for expungement.
Generally, if you wish to expunge a criminal conviction in New Jersey, you must wait five years after you complete your sentence to file for expungement. In some situations, you can file after four years.
Other wait times include:
- Drug offenses when the defendant is under 21: 1 year
- Municipal ordinance violations: 2 years
- Juvenile convictions: 3 years
- Disorderly person offenses: 5 years
“Early pathway” allows for some individuals to petition the court for expungement of a criminal record prior to the required waiting period. The court has full discretion on whether to approve or deny the request, typically based on “public interest” and other supporting documents.
Under the New Jersey clean slate law, if you would like to expunge your entire record, you must wait 10 years after your last conviction or completion of probation or parole.
How to Expunge Your Record in New Jersey
To expunge your record in New Jersey, there are certain steps you’ll need to take. First, you’ll need to gather the required information. You must have thorough documentation regarding the conviction and your entire criminal case history, including:
- Arrest dates
- Offense(s) you were arrested for
- Criminal indictment date
- Court docket numbers
- Warrant numbers
You can obtain this information through the court itself. Otherwise, you can run a thorough background check to get the required details.
After acquiring these records, you will need to draft, sign, and file your Petition for Expungement with the court. Along with your petition, you must file a Verification page, Order for Hearing, and a proposed Expungement Order:
- A Verification is a document that, when signed, serves to verify that the statements made in the petition are true and accurate and no charges are pending against the petitioner.
- An Order for Hearing is a request for the judge to schedule a hearing. Hearings are typically scheduled 35 to 60 days after the court receives your petition.
- Finally, a proposed Expungement Order is the document the judge will sign should your Petition for Expungement be granted.
Gathering all of the required records, drafting, and filing the petition can be overwhelming and confusing. At Keith Oliver Criminal Law, our expungement attorneys in New Jersey have the knowledge and skills needed to get everything done in a timely manner to help you start fresh.
How a New Jersey Expungement Attorney Can Help with Your Case
An expungement can positively influence your entire future, so it’s worth it to learn about your options. A New Jersey expungement lawyer can guide you through every step of the process and handle the legal legwork, including:
- Obtaining the required records
- Drafting and filing documents
- Representing you at your hearing
- Advocating for you in court, if necessary
- Saving you time and costly mistakes
An experienced criminal defense lawyer has the resources and skills to help you identify how best to pursue an expungement.
NJ Expungement FAQs
Below, we’ve answered a few of the most common questions we receive about expunging criminal records in New Jersey.
In many cases, a person convicted of a felony (known as an indictable offense) can apply to have their criminal records expunged five years after they have completed their sentence. However, a number of felony crimes cannot be expunged in New Jersey, including murder, sexual assault, and certain drug crimes.
Misdemeanors (known as disorderly persons offenses) are less serious crimes, including shoplifting and minor drug charges. If your conviction is for a disorderly persons offense or petty disorderly persons offense, you may qualify for expungement.
When a record is expunged in New Jersey, it is essentially sealed from public view. However, there are specific agencies that still may be able to access your criminal record in certain circumstances. A court may review your full record when determining a sentence, and immigration officials may see your record. You also may need to disclose your full record when applying for certain jobs, such as military or law-related jobs.
No. As long as the crime you committed is eligible and you meet other requirements, such as the necessary waiting period, you can petition multiple times for the expungement of your criminal record.
A judge will decide whether to approve or deny a Petition for Expungement. If you are ineligible for expungement, a judge will deny your petition. However, there are other reasons the judge may issue a denial, including:
- The petition is missing required information.
- The court determines public access to your records is valuable.
- You’ve exhausted your allotted expungements for certain offenses.
- A party objects to the expungement.
- You’re not eligible yet due to timing requirements.
If your Petition for Expungement has been denied, an expungement lawyer in New Jersey can help determine the reason and work with you to correct the issues, if possible.
The length of time it takes to get an expungement can vary depending on a number of factors, but generally the process may take upwards of six months. After you submit your application with supporting documents to the court, there are a number of steps that need to occur, including:
- Your case getting assigned to a judge
- The court scheduling your hearing
- The expungement order getting served to the appropriate agencies, if granted
- The relevant agencies removing your records from their databases
- The New Jersey State Police confirming the expungement
The time between filing your petition and receiving confirmation that the expungement is complete can vary depending on whether any involved parties need more time to review your case, the court handling your request is backlogged, your case is considered of “public interest,” and more.