Unfortunately, breaking the law with even just once mistake can follow you for the rest of your life. Fortunately, the State of New Jersey offers people who have been convicted of certain crimes to get a one-time opportunity to wipe the slate clean if they are eligible to do so. The process is called expungement and is a complex process.
Over the years, the Breslow Law Offices have law helped thousands of people begin anew with an unblemished criminal record. The attorneys at our law firm are highly experienced in this area of New Jersey law and have a strong success rate in successfully securing expungements for our clients. Call or contact our law office today to learn more about the expungement process and receive our sound legal advice to help you to get a fresh start in your life.
What Does Record Expungement Mean in New Jersey?
An expungement can be requested by a person who has been convicted of a crime to have it removed from their records. It is an intricate process with strict criteria. In New Jersey, it essentially means you can say you don’t have a criminal record even if you’ve been previously been convicted. Once the court approves your petition, you can legally answer “no” to questions asking if you’ve ever been arrested on job applications or during interviews.
Reasons to Pursue Expungement
The repercussions of a criminal conviction of a Disorderly Persons Office or a Felony (Indictable Offense) can be far-reaching because it can impact various aspects of your life. Areas of life impacted include work, school, and volunteer opportunities. Consider the following:
- Employers run background checks.
- University applications and scholarship foundations look at a person’s overall character
- Housing providers may be biased in letting someone with a conviction sign a lease.
- If you ever face a divorce or child custody battle, any convictions on your record can also factor into a court’s final decision.
A conviction just doesn’t look good regardless of circumstance and, if you’re eligible, getting it removed If you’re eligible to apply, it can have a huge positive impact on your life.
How Do I Get My Criminal Record Expunged?
Getting approval for the expunging of your records is a complicated process because criminal law and state criteria are very intricate. You’ll have to:
- Locate your criminal charges and records to prove eligibility
- Request a fingerprint check if you cannot locate criminal records
- File a petition for record expungement
- File an Order for Hearing Form
- Complete the Expungement Order Form
- Write a Cover letter
- Distribute copies of your application packet to various law enforcement agencies involved with your case (the list is extensive, you’ll need to follow directives on the New Jersey Courts website)
If you miss a step, it could delay your entire application. A defense attorney can help make certain all of your paperwork is in order and the correct parties receive copies of pertinent documents.
How Long Does It Take for a Criminal Record to Be Expunged?
Records associated with arrests that didn’t lead to convictions can be expunged immediately, but there is a waiting period for all other expungements in New Jersey. Since the New Jersey State Governor signed a bill in late 2019 adjusting the criteria associated with expungements, this is currently in flux. NJ lawmakers are also looking at a way to possibly allow e-filing of expungements. It’s a good idea to speak to an experienced expungement attorney to learn what the current situation is surrounding the waiting period and ways you can file.
Eligibility Requirements for Record Expungement
NJ law regarding expungements is complex. The court takes several factors into consideration when determining your eligibility. An expungement attorney can be your strongest ally in ensuring you find success in a timely fashion. Generally speaking, courts will look at how much time has passed since your arrest or conviction and whether you’ve satisfied all conditions associated with your sentence. They’ll also carefully examine your overall criminal history, along with the conviction itself. Certain crimes are not eligible for expungement no matter what your current circumstances are.
What is the NJ Clean Slate Law?
The State of New Jersey passed the “Clean Slate Law” in December 2019. This law allows anyone who hasn’t had a conviction in more than 10 years to have their entire criminal record expunged. To qualify, the offender must have completed all of the conditions associated with their past convictions. Even if you’ve successfully acquired an expungement in the past, if you meet all other criteria, you could start the process of having your entire criminal record wiped clean.
Crimes Eligible for Expungement in New Jersey
Convictions related to simple drug possessions, weapons violations, burglary, shoplifting, and other disorderly persons offenses (misdemeanors) or juvenile offenses may be eligible. There are several other types of crimes that may qualify and a knowledgeable attorney can examine your circumstances to see if your offense falls into the eligible category.
Additionally, if you’ve committed only one or no indictable offenses during your lifetime, you should be eligible, provided you didn’t commit one of the crimes on the ineligible list. If you’ve been convicted of two or more indictable offenses, for the most part, you won’t be eligible unless you meet very specific criteria.
Crimes Ineligible for Expungement in New Jersey
While NJ State Law allows for the removal of court records and files through expungement, to qualify you must meet criteria. The state has outlined several crimes, primarily felony convictions, that are ineligible for expungement under New Jersey Law. Crimes listed as ineligible include:
- Murder (except for Death by Auto)
- Luring or Enticing
- Human Trafficking
- Endangering the Welfare of a Child (sexual offenses and/or child pornography)
- Aggravated Sexual Assault
- Criminal Sexual Contact (if the victim was a minor)
- Criminal Restraint or False Imprisonment (if the victim is a minor and the offender is not the parent of the victim)
- False Swearing
- Producing or Possessing Chemical Weapons, Biological Agents or Nuclear or Radiological Devices
- Knowingly Promoting the Prostitution of One’s Child
- Certain drug convictions
Additionally, any conspiracies or attempts to commit any of these listed crimes will also render you ineligible to pursue an expungement in the State of New Jersey. An experienced attorney can help you to determine if your crime is eligible.
Is Marijuana Eligible for Expungement?
In December 2019, Governor Phil Murphy signed Assembly Bill 5981 to allow certain marijuana convictions to be expunged. According to the criteria, possession of up to five pounds of marijuana is eligible under the new law. It’s important to keep in mind this situation is in flux because there are bills in legislation that may drastically change the laws associated with marijuana use and possession in the next year or two.
Call an NJ Expungement Attorney Today
Technically, you don’t need a New Jersey expungement lawyer to apply to clear your record. However, it’s always a good idea to have someone at your side to fight for your rights and ensure all of your documentation and details associated with your arrest record is in order. In fact, the New Jersey Courts recommend you hire an expungement attorney to help you navigate the generally very complicated expungement process.
You might have made some mistakes in the past, but it’s never too late to start over. An expungement can provide you with a clean slate and a brand-new tomorrow. If you want to learn more about the expungement process, file for an expungement, or simply have questions about getting your conviction removed from your public record, contact Breslow Law Offices today for a free consultation at 973-239-8000.