EXPUNGEMENT LAW IN NEW JERSEY
Find out everything you need to know about expungement procedures at the Law Offices of Elliot S. Stomel, P.C. in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. There are many types of records that can be expunged, all of which are described below.
WHAT IS AN EXPUNGEMENT?
In New Jersey, an “expungement” is a procedure that provides for the extraction and isolation of all records on file within any New Jersey court, law enforcement agency, and detention or correctional facility concerning a person’s detection, apprehension, arrest, detention, trial or disposition of an offense within the State’s criminal justice system. The actual record is not literally “erased.” It is, however, made generally unavailable to people doing public records searches through the Courts, law enforcement agencies, and even the FBI.
What records can be expunged?
Indictable Offenses: Effective April 18, 2016, the expungement statute was amended to allow a person convicted of an expungable crime plus up to two disorderly persons offenses. However, if the person is attempting to expunge disorderly persons offenses in addition to an indictable offense, he must wait 10 years from the completion of the sentence of the most recent offense, even if that most recent offense is only a disorderly persons offense.
A person can also make an “early pathway” application for an expungement of an indictable offense after 5 years if (1) the person has not been convicted of a subsequent crime, disorderly persons offense or petty disorderly persons offense; and (2) the Court finds in its discretion that it is in the public interest, given the nature of the offense, and the applicant’s character and conduct since conviction. This requirement is a major undertaking, and requires something more than merely showing that the Petitioner has remained arrest-free.
Disorderly Persons Offenses and Petty Disorderly Offenses: A person who has been convicted of no more than three disorderly or petty disorderly offenses and no crimes can file a petition for expungement five years after the completion of the sentence for the most recent disorderly persons sentence. A person may file an “early pathway” application after only three years if the Court finds that the expungement is in the public interest given the nature of the offense, and the applicant’s character and conduct since conviction. As indicated above, this requirement is a major undertaking, and requires something more than merely showing that the Petitioner has remained arrest-free.
Example 1: In 2013, Joe was convicted of shoplifting, a disorderly persons offense. He was not placed on probation and paid his fines in full before leaving court that day. He also had two prior convictions for disorderly persons offenses in the 1990s. He would therefore be eligible to file a petition for expungement in 2018. (He would also have been eligible for an “early pathway” expungement in 2016 if in addition to showing he had no arrests after 2013, that it was in the public interest given the nature of the offense, and his character and conduct since his 2010 conviction.
Example 2: In 2005, Mary was convicted of third degree theft. She completed her probation in 2007. She was never convicted of any prior or subsequent offenses of any kind. She would therefore be eligible for an expungement in 2017. (She would have also been eligible for an “early pathway” expungement in 2012 if in addition to showing that she had not been convicted of any subsequent offenses, that it is in the public interest giving due consideration to the nature of the offense and her character and conduct since conviction.)
Example 3: In 2005, John was convicted of third degree theft. He completed his probation in 2007. In 2010 he was convicted of shoplifting, a disorderly persons offense. He was not placed on probation and paid his fines in full before leaving court that day. He would therefore not be eligible for an expungement until 2020. (He would also probably not be eligible for an “early pathway” expungement.)
Ordinances: A person found guilty of violating a municipal ordinance, who has not been convicted of any prior or subsequent crime, and who has not been adjudged a disorderly person or petty disorderly person on more than two occasions, may apply for expungement relief two years after the date of conviction, payment of fine, satisfactory completion of probation or release from incarceration, whichever is later;
Juvenile Offenses: A person adjudged a juvenile delinquent may have such adjudication expunged if the act committed by the juvenile would have constituted a crime, a disorderly or petty disorderly persons offense, or an ordinance violation if committed by an adult and: (1) Five years have elapsed since the final discharge of the person from legal custody or supervision or five years have elapsed after the entry of any other court order not involving custody or supervision.
Why Have Your Criminal Record Expunged?
A clean criminal record is an asset. It often determines whether an applicant gets a particular job. It can sometimes determine whether a person who already has a particular job can keep that job, or advance to a better job. It can also affect decisions of professional licensing boards. In our increasingly uptight society, criminal record checks are required of nurses, volunteer sports coaches, day care center workers, persons seeking to be foster parents, or adopt children, applicants for a firearms permit, and persons applying for school positions, to name but a few. Expungements enable an applicant to avoid unpleasant consequences of past situations.