27 Nov 23

How to Get Your Criminal Record Expunged in New Jersey

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Last Updated on: 6th December 2023, 10:58 pm

How to Get Your Criminal Record Expunged in New Jersey

Having a criminal record can make life very difficult. It can prevent you from getting a job, finding housing, and fully participating in society. Fortunately, New Jersey allows people with certain types of criminal convictions to have their records expunged. Expungement doesn’t erase the record, but it does remove it from public view.

What is Expungement?

Expungement is the process of having past criminal convictions removed from public record. An expunged record still exists in the court system and law enforcement databases, but it is no longer part of the public record. This means it won’t show up on most background checks done by employers, landlords, etc.

Expungement gives people with criminal records a second chance at leading a normal life. It removes a huge barrier to finding employment, housing, education, and more.

Am I Eligible for Expungement in New Jersey?

New Jersey has relatively broad expungement laws. Many types of convictions may be eligible, including:

  • Most disorderly persons offenses
  • Most municipal ordinance violations
  • Most petty disorderly persons offenses
  • Some indictable offenses

However, some convictions can never be expunged in NJ, such as:

  • Perjury
  • Endangering the welfare of a child
  • Most sexual assault charges
  • Most drug distribution charges

You must also meet other requirements:

  • It’s been 5+ years since conviction or release from jail/prison
  • No pending criminal charges or investigations
  • No more than 4 disorderly persons convictions (lifetime)
  • No more than 3 indictable convictions (lifetime)
  • Fully completed probation or parole

The specifics depend on the type of offense and other factors. An expungement lawyer in NJ can help determine if you qualify.

The New Jersey Expungement Process

Getting your record expunged in New Jersey involves filing a petition with the Superior Court in the county where you were convicted. Here are the basic steps:

  1. Obtain your criminal record. You’ll need to get documentation on all past charges and convictions, including municipal and out-of-state offenses.
  2. File and serve the expungement petition. An attorney can handle this paperwork for you. Multiple convictions can be included on one petition. You must have a copy served on the State Police, Attorney General, and County Prosecutor.
  3. The petition is heard by a judge. The prosecutor has 30 days to object in writing. If no objection, the judge generally grants the petition without a hearing.
  4. Distribute copies of the expungement order. Once approved, copies must go to relevant law enforcement agencies and courts to remove the record from public access.
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The entire expungement process typically takes 6-12 months right now due to court backlogs in New Jersey. Complex cases involving multiple convictions can take even longer.

Should I Hire an Expungement Attorney in New Jersey?

Technically, you can petition for expungement on your own without an attorney. However, the process is complex. Using a lawyer significantly increases your chances of success.

Benefits of hiring an expungement attorney include:

  • Ensuring you meet the eligibility requirements
  • Navigating the petitions and paperwork
  • Communicating with courts and prosecutors
  • Correcting errors if a petition is denied
  • Speeding up the process where possible

A good New Jersey expungement lawyer will also help get your case heard quickly and make sure the order to expunge is properly enforced. Hiring an attorney does involve legal fees, but it’s often worth the cost to finally clear your record.

After Your Record is Expunged

Once your criminal record is expunged in New Jersey, it’s like it never existed as far as most potential employers and landlords are concerned. There are still some exceptions—you must disclose expunged convictions when applying for a state license or job in law enforcement, education, or public office.

Otherwise, you no longer have to check the “box” admitting past criminal convictions on job, housing, or school applications. Expungement gives you a true second chance to live your life without a criminal record holding you back!

Getting your record expunged can be confusing, but with some persistence and legal help, it is possible. If you meet the New Jersey eligibility requirements, expungement can absolutely change your life for the better. Don’t let an old conviction keep defining your future!