Expunging a Criminal Record

Many people in New Jersey who are arrested or convicted of a crime forget about the powerful tool of expungements. Expunging a criminal record can have a powerful effect on your ability to get a job, your ability to own a weapon or your piece of mind. If one is able to get an expungement, that expungement acts to basically eradicate any record that the conviction or arrest even occurred. There are certain limited exceptions where expunged records can still be uncovered, such as for use by a judge in determining the acceptance of a person’s application into a supervisory treatment or diversionary program for subsequent charges (N.J.S.A. 2C:52-20), by a judge in setting bail and for sentencing purposes in subsequent proceedings (N.J.S.A. 2C:52-21), by the Parole Board in evaluating a person’s eligibility for parole (N.J.S.A. 2C:52-22), and for use by the Department of Corrections for classification purposes (N.J.S.A. 2C:52-23). However, by and large an expungement allows you to “wipe the slate clean”.

In New Jersey, it is even possible in some circumstances to expunge a record of you conviction for an indictable offense. The applicable statute, N.J.S.A. 2C:52-2(a), allows for an expungement petition to be entertained for certain indictable offenses after a 10 year waiting period. However, the waiting period to expunge an indictable offense can be reduced to less than 10 years in some cases.

For convictions of disorderly persons offenses, the wait period to expunge that pesky record is 5 years from the date of conviction, payment of fine, release from incarceration or satisfactory completion of probation or parole, whichever is later.

Importantly, arrest records in New Jersey that do not result in convictions can be expunged with no wait period if the proper petition is filed.

Recently, case law has developed which favorably views shorter wait times for expungements and expungements in general as being in the public interest.

So, now might be the time for you to put the past behind you and move forward with a clean slate.

However, before you count the years and proudly march into an attorney’s office, confident that an expungement will soon be yours, remember that there are MANY contingencies before one is eligible for an expungement and, if eligible, whether the expungement is actually granted. Certain criminal convictions are barred from expungement altogether. There are also circumstances where criminal history may bar an expungement. Moreover, even if you are eligible, the petition for expungement must be procedurally correct, must be sent to a number of law enforcement and court agencies and it may take as long as 2 months to get in front of a judge to be heard. So, if this information applies to you, take some time to make an appointment to consult with an attorney to determine your eligibility and options.

And remember: You are always able to get a copy of your own criminal background check in New Jersey through a consumer background check with the New Jersey State Police. Just go to the New Jersey State Police website at www.njsp.org, click on the link near the bottom of the page for “Criminal History Background Checks”, and follow the instructions to pay a nominal fee to get a copy of your criminal history.

If you have any questions about expungements, or anything else related to this post, please feel free to contact me at david@hasnerandhasner.com or by contacting my office at 856-282-0777.

-David Hasner, Esq. – Hasner and Hasner, PA

*Disclaimer* Content posted in this blog is made for informational purposes only. Viewing this blog does not create and attorney/client relationship with Hasner and Hasner, PA. and/or David Hasner, Esq. If you have any questions about the information in this blog, contact David Hasner, Esq. or an attorney with knowledge in this area of law for a consultation.