A criminal arrest or conviction can have consequences long after your case is resolved or you’ve served your sentence. A criminal record can make it difficult or even impossible to successfully apply for housing, employment, education, financial services, or government benefits. Fortunately, New Jersey allows many individuals to wipe the slate clean.
The New Jersey expungement process removes criminal records from widespread access and shields them from background checks. A Monmouth County expungement attorney from Keith Oliver Criminal Law can explain the process and help you get a fresh start.
Contact us today for a free and confidential case evaluation. We’ll review your record and explain whether you’re eligible to begin the expungement process.
What Is Expungement?
In New Jersey, expungement of a criminal record does not mean that the record is deleted or destroyed. Instead, expungement involves the sealing of a criminal record from public access. This means that an expunged record will not show up on a commercial background check for employment, housing, or financial applications. An individual who is granted an expungement is legally permitted to respond “no” when asked if they have been arrested or convicted of the offense that was expunged. In addition, New Jersey law criminalizes disclosing the fact of an arrest or conviction that has been expunged.
However, because expungement does not mean that a criminal record is deleted, it can still be accessed by certain parties under limited circumstances, such as for applications for law enforcement or positions with the judiciary or military or for immigration purposes. Expunged records can also be accessed by corrections departments to classify inmates for security purposes or by parole boards as part of their decision-making processes.
What Crimes Cannot Be Expunged in New Jersey?
In New Jersey, most criminal offenses, including both disorderly persons offenses and indictable crimes, are eligible for expungement. However, certain serious violent offenses cannot be expunged. These offenses include:
- Human trafficking
- False imprisonment
- Sexual assault/rape
In addition, records of DUI/DWI convictions and motor vehicle offenses cannot be expunged.
What Are the New Jersey Expungement Requirements?
To qualify for expungement in New Jersey, you must meet various conditions and requirements. Most importantly, someone applying for expungement of a prior arrest or conviction must not have any pending criminal charges against them at the time of their application. The offense also must not be on the list of crimes for which expungement is prohibited.
While an individual may be eligible to seek multiple expungements of convictions over the course of their life, the number of expungements that a person is entitled to varies based on the type of offense being expunged:
- Up to four petty disorderly persons or disorderly persons offenses can be expunged if an individual does not also have an indictable crime conviction.
- Up to three petty disorderly persons offenses or disorderly persons offenses can be expunged if an individual also has an indictable crime conviction.
- An unlimited number of petty disorderly persons or disorderly persons offenses can be expunged if all convictions were entered on the same day and an individual does not have any other convictions.
- Only one indictable crime may be expunged, although multiple related crimes listed in a single judgment may all be expunged at once under certain circumstances. An applicant also must not have any other convictions.
There is also a time component that must be met in order for a potential applicant to qualify for expungement.
What Is the New Jersey Expungement Waiting Time?
An applicant for expungement in New Jersey must observe the required waiting period. The waiting period begins once an offender has finished serving their sentence or term of probation, including paying all fines and costs, or at the conclusion of the case, if applicable.
The following waiting times may apply to your situation:
- Dismissal of a charge: No waiting period
- Dismissal of a charge following completion of a diversionary program: Six months
- Drug offenses committed under the age of 21: One year
- Violations of municipal ordinances: Two years
- Juvenile convictions: The shorter of three years or the waiting period for the offense if it had been committed by an adult
- Disorderly persons offenses: Five years, although certain programs may entitle an offender to seek expungement in three years
- Indictable crimes: Six years, although an application may be granted after five years if the applicant can prove to the court that granting the expungement is in the public interest
How to Expunge Your Record in Monmouth County
The expungement process in Monmouth County involves the following steps:
- First, you must obtain a copy of your entire criminal history, including all arrest records and case information for each offense that you were arrested for or convicted of. These records should reflect the date(s) of arrest(s), the statutes that you were arrested under or charged with, dates of indictments or summonses, warrant and docket numbers, the date of disposition of the case, and the sentence imposed if convicted.
- Next, you will need to draft an expungement petition to file with the court. The petition should include information such as your name, address, date of birth, copies of your entire criminal record, and a formal statement requesting expungement.
- You must also submit a separate verification document stating under penalty of perjury that the statements in your petition are true, that you have no pending charges against you, and, if you are seeking expungement of an indictable crime, that you have never previously received expungement.
- The documents to be filed with the court should also include an order for hearing that lists the agencies that should be served with your petition to give them notice to lodge an objection if they choose. You must also include a proposed final expungement order, which, if granted by the trial court, will direct New Jersey agencies to seal your criminal record.
- The expungement petition packet must be filed in the county where the charge you are seeking to expunge was heard. Once the court receives your filing, it will schedule a hearing. You must also serve the petition on all the necessary state agencies.
- Prior to or at the hearing, any notified agency may object to your petition. Typically, objections are lodged by the county prosecutor’s office if their background check finds grounds for denying your petition. At the hearing, you or your attorney may be required to argue to the court how granting the petition is in the public interest.
- If the court grants your petition, you must serve it on all state agencies with copies of the expunged record, especially the New Jersey State Police.
How a Monmouth County Expungement Attorney Can Help with Your Case
The expungement process is complex, and it’s easy to make costly mistakes if you are not a legal professional with experience in this area. A Monmouth County expungement attorney from Keith Oliver Criminal Law can make the process as simple and efficient as possible for you by:
- Ensuring you are eligible for expungement
- Gathering your criminal record and all required information for the expungement petition
- Preparing and filing the petition package with the court and serving notice of your petition on the relevant state agencies
- Correcting any technical objections to the petition
- Advocating on your behalf if a party lodges an objection to the petition or if the court requires that you show that granting your petition serves the public interest
- Ensuring that state agencies receive a copy of the expungement order and seal your record from public access
N.J. Expungement FAQs
Some of the questions our clients most frequently ask about the expungement process in New Jersey include:
New Jersey permits many types of felony offenses (known as indictable crimes) to be expunged. Only certain violent crimes are ineligible for expungement, such as homicide, terrorism, sexual assault, kidnapping, and arson.
As with indictable offenses, almost all misdemeanors (known as disorderly persons offenses) can be expunged. Only DWI/DUI and motor vehicle misdemeanor offenses are barred from being expunged.
An expunged record in New Jersey is not deleted but instead sealed from public view. The record is kept for certain limited purposes. Parties that may have access to an expunged record for these purposes include law enforcement agencies, state and federal judiciaries, the military, state and federal departments of corrections, and the state parole board.
By successfully petitioning the court to expunge your criminal history, you could be eligible to lawfully possess a firearm in New Jersey again. However, in order to do so, you must first go through the traditional process and make an application for a Firearms Purchasers Identification Card (FPIC). This application should be submitted through the Chief of Police of the town that you reside in.
By having your criminal case history expunged, you can answer certain questions on the application more favorably. This could certainly increase your chances of obtaining your FPIC and, eventually, a firearm. However, there are circumstances under which you may still be denied a gun permit in Monmouth County.
Unfortunately, New Jersey’s expungement laws do not allow for motor vehicle infractions, including driving while intoxicated offenses, to be expunged. Furthermore, these offenses will never expire and will always remain in an individual’s driver’s abstract.
Ready for a Clean Slate? Talk to a Monmouth County Expungement Attorney Now
If you have a criminal record, you may be entitled to expunge it and get the fresh start you deserve. Contact Keith Oliver Criminal Law today for a free initial consultation to learn more about your legal options for seeking an expungement in New Jersey.