Expungement laws vary widely by state. Whether or not a person can expunge their criminal record depends on the laws of the state in which the arrest and/or conviction occurred. In New Jersey, the determination of which offenses qualify for expungement is dependent on the following factors:
Whether the person seeks to expunge an arrest not resulting in a conviction or an actual conviction.
Whether the person was convicted of a crime (felony), disorderly persons offense (misdemeanor), or a municipal ordinance violation.
The total number of times a person has been convicted in the past and the types of offenses (i.e., crime, disorderly persons offense, or ordinance violation) the person has been convicted of.
Whether the individual has had criminal charges dismissed pursuant to a diversionary program such, as conditional discharge or pretrial intervention.
The date the individual completed their sentence (such as probation or payment of a fine) for any convictions.
Whether the individual was previously granted an expungement.
If you have been arrested or convicted multiple times, the laws regarding eligibility for expungement can become complicated. The experienced expungement attorneys at Wolf Law will review all of your convictions and arrests in order to determine whether or not you qualify for an expungement.
If you are unsure of or do not remember exactly how many times you have been arrested or convicted, or are unsure what the final result was when you went to court, an accurate eligibility assessment will require reviewing the results of a criminal history search. Click here to learn how to obtain a complete and accurate copy of your criminal record.
You must wait a certain specified amount of time to expunge a conviction in New Jersey. The time does not begin to run on the date of your conviction. Instead, it begins to run from the date you completed your sentence – such as probation of court ordered financial assessments. So, for example, if you were convicted on January 1, 2012, and sentenced to one year of probation, which you completed on January 1, 2013, the waiting time begins to run on January 1, 2013. Note, however, that a court may relax this requirement with respect to the payment of fines.
The amount of time you must wait depends on the type of offense you were convicted of. The time requirements are as follows:
Dismissal – no waiting period
Dismissal as a result of successful completion of a diversion program – six months
Young Drug Offender (under 21) – one year
Municipal Ordinance – two years
Juvenile Adjudication – five years or time period for expunging the offense if committed by an adult, whichever is shorter
Petty Disorderly Persons Offense (misdemeanor) – usually five years; however, an individual may be eligible for a three-year “early pathway” expungement.
Disorderly Persons Offense (misdemeanor) – usually five years; however, an individual may be eligible for a three-year “early pathway” expungement.
Crime (felony) – usually five (5) years; however, an individual may be eligible for after four (4) years for an “early pathway” expungement.
Drug Court – No waiting period. Upon completion of Drug Court, you may have all of your eligible criminal offenses expunged, regardless of how many convictions you have or how long it has been since you were convicted. Crimes that are never eligible for expunement are excepted.
If the charges were outright dismissed, you are eligible for an expungement immediately, regardless of any other conviction you may have. If the charges were dismissed pursuant to a diversionary program, such as conditional discharge or pretrial intervention, you must wait six months from the date of the dismissal for an expungement. If the charges were dismissed as a result of a plea bargain then you must wait until the associated charge that you pled guilty to is eligible.
If your charges were dismissed after April 18, 2016, the court is required at the time of acquittal, dismissal, or discharge — upon your application — to order the automatic expungement of all records relating to the offense. Please note, however, that this “automatic” expungement of arrests that resulted in dismissal applies ONLY if you “make application” to the court for the automatic expungement. If you failed to ask the court for an expungement at the time the charges were dismissed, the record of the arrest will remain on your record and a petition for expungement will therefore need to be filed to remove the arrest record. If your charges were dismissed before April 18, 2016, the automatic expungement provision does not apply and petition for expungement will need to be filed with the court.
Often times, people assume that they do not need an expungement if their charges were dismissed. This mistaken assumption often leads to disastrous consequences, however. Even if your charges were dismissed, anyone running a background check on you would be able to see the record of your arrest. Arrest information does not automatically go away. In order to ensure that this information does not show up, you must have the arrest record expunged.
It is important to note that the ability to expunge Disorderly Persons or Petty Disorderly Persons Offense convictions when you have had a felony conviction came about as a result in a change in the law effective on April 18, 2016. Prior to April 18, 2016, anyone convicted of a felony could expunge their felony conviction, however, any petty disorderly persons offenses or disorderly persons offenses would remain on the record. Thus, if you obtained an expungement of a felony conviction prior to April 18, 2016, and you were denied expungement of any petty disorderly persons or disorderly persons offenses that were on your record at that time, you may in fact now be eligible to have those convictions expunged.
Yes. Convictions for more serious crimes in New Jersey are statutorily barred from the expungement process. Records of conviction for the following crimes, among others, are ineligible for expungement: homicide, kidnapping, human trafficking, arson, sexual assault, terrorism, robbery, and false imprisonment. Read more about disqualifications, click here.
No. In New Jersey, driving while intoxicated is considered a traffic offense – not a criminal offense. Only criminal arrests or convictions can be expunged in New Jersey. As such, it is not possible to expunge records relating to driving while intoxicated. Motor vehicle violations remain on your driver’s abstract.
Yes. As illustrated by the above example, expungement laws change. If your record is not eligible for expungement now, check again periodically as the laws regarding expungement may have changed.
In addition, you may want to consider apply for a Certificate of Rehabilitation. Certificates of Rehabilitation are usually sought by individuals that have been denied a professional license or some type of state licesning due their criminal history. Certificates of Rehabilitation are presumptive evidence of rehabilitation. This means that if you are granted a Certificate of Rehabilitation under N.J.S.A. 2A:168A-1, then the applicable New Jersey licensing authority will usually be prohibited from denying you a license based solely on your criminal conviction. It should also be kept in mind that Certificates of Rehabilitation are not only available to individuals with professional licenses, but also for Taxi Licenses, Commercial Drivers Licenses and Hazardous Waste Endorsements, Liquor Serving Licenses, Contractors Licenses, and generally any licenses or permits issued by any State or local governmental agency. Click here to read more about Certificates of Rehabilitation.
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