An Overview of Criminal Record Expungement in New Jersey
Expungement is the legal process of removing the record of an arrest or conviction from your criminal file. In most cases, an offense that has been expunged is treated as though it never occurred.
The Benefits of Expungement
Because expungement gives a person the legal right to state that the expunged offense never occurred, the benefits are far-reaching. For instance, an expunged offense usually does not need to be disclosed on applications for employment, housing or schooling. In addition, background checks generally do not reveal any record of the expungement or the underlying offense because law enforcement agencies are required to keep a record private after it has been expunged.
What Can Be Expunged in New Jersey?
In New Jersey, expungement may be granted in a number of different situations, including:
- Certain indictable offenses: If you have been convicted of an indictable offense (a criminal offense defined by state law that includes first, second, third and fourth degree crimes) there is usually a 10-year waiting period before you can request an expungement, though it may be reduced to five years in some cases. The waiting period begins on the last date in your case, such as release from incarceration or completion of probation. To qualify for expungement of an indictable offense in New Jersey, you cannot have more than two disorderly persons convictions and cannot have been convicted of any other crime.
- Disorderly persons offenses: There is a five-year waiting period for expungement of disorderly persons offenses in New Jersey. You cannot obtain an expungement of a disorderly persons offense if you have previously been convicted of an indictable offense or more than three disorderly persons offenses.
- Municipal ordinance violations: If you have been convicted of violating a municipal (city) ordinance, you must wait two years before requesting an expungement. You cannot obtain an expungement of a municipal ordinance violation in New Jersey if you have been previously convicted of an indictable offense or more than two disorderly persons offenses.
- Arrests that did not lead to conviction: If the charges against you were dismissed or you were found not guilty, you are immediately eligible to request an expungement.
What Can’t Be Expunged in New Jersey?
Under New Jersey law, certain crimes cannot be expunged. Among others, these include kidnapping, sexual assault, robbery, arson and most types of criminal homicide convictions. To learn more about criminal record expungement in New Jersey, or for assistance with the expungement process, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.