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Can My Record Be Expunged?

Clearing your criminal history is very important for those who have been found guilty of any level of criminal offense in New Jersey. Expungements completely remove a criminal conviction from state or federal records; the conviction is also removed from the defendant's criminal record. This is very important for several reasons, particularly finding employment and the ability to secure a loan for housing or other purposes. Those who want to learn more about expungements and whether they may be eligible are invited to schedule a consultation with Forrester Law Firm at 609-613-1513.

How a Criminal Conviction Affects Your Life

Whether a disorderly persons offense (misdemeanor) or criminal conviction (felony), a criminal record impacts every aspect of a person's life. Even when criminal charges are dismissed, the fact an arrest occurred will remain visible during a background check. Considering the internet makes it easy for nearly anyone to find out if someone has a criminal record, it is vital to have records expunged when possible.

Landlords, employers, licensing agents, financial institutions, and even friends or acquaintances can access criminal background records. This could potentially limit your life in terms of employment and financial opportunities, the freedom to own a firearm, or even where you may live. It is difficult if not impossible to obtain a professional license for employment in education, healthcare, law, and other career fields when you have a criminal record.

Criminal Offenses Not Eligible for Expungement

There are certain criminal offenses that are ineligible for expungements according to the State of New Jersey. These include but are not limited to:

  • Criminal homicide (except for vehicular homicide)
  • Robbery
  • Perjury
  • Endangering the welfare of a minor
  • Possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute (except for third- and fourth-degree charges)
  • Kidnapping
  • False imprisonment
  • Aggravated sexual assault
  • Criminal sexual contact with a minor

Many other criminal offenses are eligible for expungements. While adults often desire to have their state and criminal records expunged, it is especially important for juveniles who are just entering the most important journeys of their lives as they transition to adulthood. Other records expunged include fingerprints, judicial docket records, warrants, photographs, complaints, arrests, "rap sheets," and more.

Qualifying for Expungements in New Jersey

There are various factors that may impact whether a person's criminal records can be expunged. Some of these include criminal history, type of offense, and how much time has passed since the arrest or conviction. There are four basic types of expungement in New Jersey:

  • Regular Expungements
  • Marijuana Expungements
  • Drug Court Expungements
  • Clean Slate Act Expungements

While it may seem that expungements are very limited in their scope, there are many circumstances in which it may be possible to clear your criminal history. Every person's situation is different; for instance, if numerous indictable convictions were the result of a crime spree or scheme, it may be possible to expunge records. Navigating a complex criminal defense system is not easy; those who need further legal guidance may want to consider visiting with a New Jersey criminal defense attorney at Forrester Law Firm.

Expungement Waiting Periods

There are waiting periods that vary depending on the criminal offense a person is arrested for or convicted of except for an arrest not leading to a conviction. In this instance, there is no waiting period unless the offense was dismissed due to a diversion program. If this is the case, there is a six-month waiting period. Waiting periods include:

  • When seeking to expunge an individual felony conviction, the waiting period after completion of sentence—including probation or parole supervision, a period of incarceration or payment of any fines ordered at sentence—is generally 5 years, but can be shortened to 4 years if an early pathway expungement is used.
  • When seeking to expunge multiple felony convictions using the Clean Slate Act expungement, the waiting period is 10 years after completion of sentence.
  • Disorderly persons offenses have a waiting period of 5 years from the date of supervision completion, but there is a possible early pathway expungement option that can shorten the waiting period to 3 years.
  • When seeking to expunge an individual juvenile delinquency offense, the same waiting period applies as would if the offense had been committed by an adult.
  • When seeking to expunge an entire juvenile record, the waiting period is 3 years after the final discharge from custody or date of supervision completion—assuming numerous conditions are met.
  • Ordinance violations have a waiting period of 2 years from date of supervision completion.
  • Records of youthful drug offenders have a waiting period of 1 year from date of supervision completion.

What You Will Need for Expungement Proceeding

According to New Jersey Courts there are specific records that will be necessary when filing an order to expunge a criminal or juvenile record. These include:

  • For adults, the date of arrest; for juveniles, date taken into custody
  • The offense(s) and statute(s) which resulted in arrest, being taken into police custody as a juvenile, and adjudicated delinquent or convicted
  • All original documents which may include a warrant or complaint number, summons, indictment, docket number, accusation, etc.
  • Date of disposition. This may be the date of dismissal of charges, acquittal date, or date of the adjudication of delinquency or conviction
  • The express punishment or other disposition

Records may be located with the lawyer who was secured at the time of arrest (for juveniles, when taken into custody); attorneys usually have these records in their case files. Otherwise, records can be obtained by contacting the Superior Court Criminal Case Management Office in county where arrested or convicted. In juvenile matters, records can be obtained from the Superior Court Family Division Office in the county relevant to the incident. The prosecutor's office may also provide you information regarding your criminal or juvenile records.

Consider Consulting with a New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney

Those with a criminal or juvenile record often do not know where to start when trying to clear their record. The process is complex and involved; you want to make certain that every t is crossed, and i dotted. Expungements are not simple and straightforward, especially for those not familiar with the law and legal processes. Where do you start, what documents do you need, who do you call, and what is the first step in the process? You want to clear your record so that you can do the things in life that you want to do in terms of career field, employment, getting a mortgage, and more. Those needing legal guidance and support are encouraged to schedule a consultation with Forrester Law Firm at 609-613-1513.

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