What is the NJ Expungement Law?
A criminal record can impact your life long after you serve time or pay fines.
In fact, a criminal record follows you wherever you go, affecting employment and housing opportunities.
Because of the consequences of a criminal record, courts allow expungement in NJ of your records relating to an offense. Following NJ expungement law, the court seals your criminal record for an offense. This erases the offense from your record.
Once you have an expunged offense, you no longer have to disclose that offense on employment or housing applications.
Only certain crimes are eligible for expungement, and each state differs in how they apply expungements. So, how does New Jersey expungement law work?
Qualifying for expungement in NJ depends on these factors:
- Were you convicted of a felony crime, misdemeanor, or municipal ordinance violation?
- What offenses have you been convicted of before?
- When did you complete your sentence?
- Have you been previously granted an expungement in NJ?
Were You Convicted of a Felony Crime, Misdemeanor, or Municipal Ordinance Violation?
In New Jersey expungement law, convictions of serious crimes cannot be expunged. These crimes include homicide, kidnapping, human trafficking, arson, sexual assault, terrorism, robbery, and false imprisonment. Convictions of a DUI or DWI also cannot be expunged.
Other crimes, including misdemeanors and municipal ordinance violations, can be expunged. Whether a violation is expunged depends on factors like the number of crimes committed or previously expunged.
Even if a judge dismisses your charges, your arrest record still exists. This record can cause problems with future employment. Anyone who runs a background check on you will see this arrest record. In order to clear your record, you must request an expungement of all records related to the dismissed charge.
If your charges are dismissed, you should make an application to the court for automatic expungement. Once you request this expungement in NJ, the court must order automatic expungement of all records for that offense. If your attorney does not request expungement when your case is dismissed, you can file a later petition for expungement.
What Offenses Have You Been Convicted of Before?
When considering your New Jersey expungement, a judge will evaluate your entire criminal record, including previous expungements. A judge may factor in the type of crimes committed or expunged as well.
You may not know how many times you have been arrested or convicted. If you are confused about these facts, an attorney can perform a criminal record search for you. Contact a New Jersey expungement attorney for help searching your criminal record.
When Did You Complete Your Sentence?
The waiting period for NJ expungement does not begin until you complete your sentence, including probation or payment of fines. This means that you don’t start counting the time period until expungement eligibility from the date of your conviction. You start counting when you complete all sentencing requirements for your case.
You must wait a certain amount of time after completing your sentence before you can receive a New Jersey expungement. The waiting time required depends on the seriousness of your conviction.
- Dismissals require no waiting period.
- Dismissals, after completing a diversion program, require 6 months.
- Drug offenders under the age of 21 require 1 year.
- A municipal ordinance violation requires 2 years.
- A juvenile adjudication requires the shorter of 3 years or waiting period required for the offense if committed by an adult.
- A disorderly persons offense requires 5 years or 3 years “early pathway” expungement.
- A felony requires 6 years or 5 years “early pathway” expungement.
Early pathway expungement refers to a law that allows earlier expungement if the expungement serves the public interest. In other words, the offender must demonstrate good character and a desire to participate in the community.
In addition to early pathway expungement, Drug Court offers another expedited route to expungement. Offenders who complete Drug Court may have their entire criminal record expunged without waiting on the above time periods.
Have You Been Previously Granted an Expungement?
New Jersey offenders are eligible for more than one expungement, depending on the type of offense committed. New Jersey allows the following expungement maximums:
- Four petty/disorderly persons expungements if not convicted of a felony
- Three petty/disorderly persons expungements if convicted of a felony
- Unlimited number of disorderly persons convictions expunged if the applicant has no other disorderly persons convictions and all disorderly persons convictions were entered on the same day.
- Only one criminal offense can be expunged. There is an exception if all closely related criminal convictions are listed in a single judgment, and the applicant has no convictions for any other crime or offense.
Even if you have been previously granted an expungement, you should ask the court to consider another expungement.
Start Your New Jersey Expungement Today
A criminal record is too damaging to your reputation to ignore. If you would like your criminal record erased, NJ expungement law may help. Once you have your record expunged, you can secure better housing and employment options.
A New Jersey expungement attorney can help you formulate your best argument for expungement. Contact NJ expungement law expert Anthony Vecchio, an attorney who has defended thousands of clients, for a free consultation.