Expunge a New Jersey Criminal Record
Every day that you have a criminal conviction on your record can mean a lost opportunity in life. This opportunity can be a job you wanted and were otherwise qualified for, a financial aid package you needed, or the opportunity to vote or obtain a firearm permit.
Fortunately, the state of New Jersey offers an opportunity to have your record cleared through the expungement process. Unfortunately, strict rules govern who can and cannot receive an expungement. The process can also be somewhat tedious and time consuming, with precise paperwork and deadlines.
Experienced expungement attorney Anthony J. Vecchio regularly handles the expungement process for clients seeking to clear their criminal records. He gives these cases utmost priority and has a “next-day” turnaround system for each stage of the process. Call Anthony anytime to get the process started.
What is an Expungement?
A better question would be, “How do you get the various agencies who have records on you to remove or destroy them?”
These records are never destroyed. However, they can be “extracted and isolated” by these agencies from public view if those agencies are ordered to do so.
These agencies include the New Jersey State Police, the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, the county prosecutor’s office, sheriff’s department and probation department in whatever county you were prosecuted in, as well as the local police department and municipal court in the town you were arrested or charged in.
How do you force these agencies to remove and isolate your records? By asking a Superior Court Judge to do so through filing an expungement petition along with other legal documents, paying a filing fee, and properly serving the appropriate state agencies with the petition and supporting items.
Once the process is completed, the records will be removed from public view and you will be lawfully entitled to answer, “no” to any question regarding the expungement records or underlying incident.
Who is Eligible?
First, only New Jersey criminal records (and juvenile records) can be expunged. A New Jersey judge does not have jurisdiction to order that records from other states or jurisdictions be expunged. Second, motor vehicle records, including DWI convictions, and civil orders cannot be expunged. Lastly, whether your criminal record can be expunged depends on what you were convicted of, how much time has passed since you completed whatever sentence was imposed, and how many and what type of other convictions are on your record.
If you merely arrested or charged with an offense, but the charges were later dismissed, you may apply for an expungement right away. However, if the charges were dismissed following completion of a diversionary program like a conditional discharge or the pre-trial intervention program, you must wait six months from the dismissal date.
Those convicted of a crime (indictable or “felony”), may apply for an expungement after 5 years has passed since they completed their sentence or term of probation if the judge finds that it is in the public interest to grant the expungement. Showing that it is in the public interest that you obtain an expungement is easier said than done. You can avoid this requirement if you wait 10 years instead of 5.
The individual also must not have ever been convicted of a crime either before or after the incident or have been convicted of more than two disorderly persons offenses.
Some crimes may never be expunged despite the foregoing. These include: criminal homicide, kidnapping, luring or enticing, human trafficking, aggravated sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual contact (if the victim is a minor), criminal sexual contact (if the victim is a minor and the offender is not the parent of the victim), criminal restraint, false imprisonment, robbery, arson, endangering the welfare of a child by engaging in sexual conduct, selling or manufacturing child pornography, perjury, and false swearing. Conspiracies and attempts to commit these crimes are also not able to be expunged. Any crime committed by a public office holder cannot be expunged either if the offense concerned or “touched” the office holder’s position.
Distribution and Intent to Distribute Convictions
The general rule used to be that convictions for distribution could never be expunged. That rule has been modified, and it is now possible to have such convictions expunged in certain cases.
This includes in the of marijuana less than or equal to 25 grams (or 5 grams of hashish), or any drug if the conviction was a third or fourth degree, and the court finds that the grant of an expungement would be in the public interest.
Disorderly Persons Offense Convictions and Ordinances
Can be expunged after five years as long as you have never been convicted of a crime either before or after the disorderly persons offense conviction or of another three disorderly persons offenses. Local ordinances can also be expunged, as long as you have never been convicted before or after of a crime or a disorderly persons offense on two or more occasions.
How Long Does It Take?
We complete all work on a “next-day” turnaround basis. The court must grant a hearing between 25-60 days after the petition is filed. The expungement should be signed at the hearing, as long as no objection is filed by the state. After receiving the order, we serve the order on the appropriate state agencies, who sometimes take several weeks to expunge their records.