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WHAT IS EXPUNGEMENT OF A CONVICTION?

Legal Blog

Question 20 on the employment application says, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” You know that when you mark yes, the job is gone. A person with an expungement may mark … No.

Each day that you have a criminal conviction in your past, you are losing opportunities for your future. The conviction can stop you from getting a job, a professional license, educational financial aid, or other opportunities.

Fortunately, New Jersey offers a way to clear your record through expungement. Expungement seals the records and allows you to say that the arrest or conviction never happened. For most purposes, expungement wipes your past clean and removes the record of the arrest or conviction.

What is Expungement?

New Jersey Statute 2C:52-1 defines expungement as the “extraction and isolation of all records on file within any court, detention or correctional facility, law enforcement or criminal justice agency concerning a person’s detection, apprehension, arrest, detention, trial or disposition of an offense within the criminal justice system.” This means the records are pulled out and sealed. The records are sealed, but not destroyed. In a few special situations – for example applying for law enforcement or court positions — expungement does not apply and the sealed records exist to check. In almost everything else, expungement means the record or your arrest or conviction has vanished and you were never convicted.

Who is Eligible for Expungement?

In New Jersey, the law allows you to have an expungement of an indictable conviction (commonly called a “felony”) or a disorderly person conviction (commonly called a “misdemeanor”). You can petition for expungement for local ordinance violations. Any type of arrest or charges that did not result in a conviction can be expunged. Traffic violation, including DUI convictions and civil orders cannot be expunged.

Determining if you can petition to have your criminal record expunged will depend on the nature of your conviction and your record. You will need to check with an experienced attorney who can determine if you are eligible for an expungement.
What Crimes are not eligible for Expungement?

New Jersey Statute 2C:52-2 specifies that following crimes cannot be expunged:

Homicide, death by auto
Kidnapping
Luring or Enticing
Human Trafficking
Aggravated Sexual Assault
Aggravated Criminal Sexual Contact
Criminal Sexual Contact, if a minor
Criminal Restraint, if a minor
False Imprisonment, if a minor
Robbery
Arson
Endangering the welfare of a child, if sexual conduct
Perjury
False Swearing
Promoting prostitution, own child
Terrorism
Producing or Possessing Chemical Weapons
And conspiracies or attempts to commit such crimes.
Public corruption
Records of conviction for any crime committed by a person holding any public office,
Sale or Possession with the intent to Distribute a controlled dangerous substance except:
(1) Marijuana, where the total quantity sold, distributed or possessed with intent to sell was 25 grams or less;
(2) Hashish, where the total quantity sold, distributed or possessed with intent to sell was five grams or less; or
(3) Any controlled dangerous substance provided that the conviction is of the third or fourth degree, where the court finds that expungement is consistent with the public interest.
Remember that charges that did not result in convictions, regardless of the nature of the crime, can be expunged.

Can Sale or Possession with the Intent to Distribute a Controlled Dangerous Substance be expunged?

In 2010, New Jersey amended the expungement law to allow expungement for Sale or Possession with the Intent to Distribute a Controlled Dangerous Substance that were third and fourth degree drug convictions. The old law barred the expungement of all sales, distributions, or possession with intent to sell drug crimes except for less than 25 grams of marijuana or 5 grams of hashish. Under the current law, the court can expunge third and fourth degree possession with the intent to distribute convictions if the expungement is consistent with the public interest.

How Long Before The Records Can Be Expunged.

Generally, you can petition to have an indictable conviction expunged ten years after you have completed your sentence, paid your fine, or completed parole or probation. In 2010, New Jersey reduced the waiting period for certain cases to five years if there have been no additional convictions and if expungement is in the “public interest.” The law requires that the court consider the “nature of the offense” and the “applicant’s character and conduct since conviction.”

You can petition to have a disorderly person convictions expunged after five years, as long as you have never been convicted of an indictable crime or another three disorderly persons offenses. You can petition to have a local ordinances expunged after 2 years, as long as you have never been convicted of an indictable crime or two or more disorderly persons offenses.
You can petition to have pre-trial intervention (PTI) or a conditional discharge expunged six months after you complete the program. For cases where the charges did not result in a conviction, you can petition to have an expungement immediately.

HIRING AN EXPERIENCED NEW JERSEY EXPUNGEMENT ATTORNEY

Attorney Douglas Herring is a New Jersey criminal defense attorney who will help explain the expungement process to you, get your criminal record from the law enforcement authorities, and the documentation of your old charge. Mr. Herring is a former prosecutor in State and Federal Court. Mr. Herring will petition the court for an order to expunge your record. After we file the petition, the court must grant a hearing in 35 to 60 days. All of the courts and agencies in the jurisdictions where the offenses happened will receive copies of your petition, so they have the opportunity to object. If anyone objects, Mr. Herring will fight any objections aggressively. At the hearing, the court will sign the order expunging your record. After the court signs the expungement order, Mr. Herring will serve the order on the appropriate law enforcement agencies, who will expunge your criminal history from their records. Usually the entire expungement process takes around 90 to 120 days to seal the record of your arrest or conviction.

Mr. Herring handles expungement cases in New Jersey Courts, including Middlesex, Somerset, Mercer, Monmouth, and Hunterdon counties. When you are ready seal your record with an expungement, please contact New Jersey criminal defense attorney Douglas Herring for a free consultation. You can call our office at toll free at (844) 652-2287 or (732) 555-1234, (609) 555-1234, or (908) 555-1234, or reach us by completing the form on our contact page or by sending an e-mail. We are available every day of the year, 24 hours a day.

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