A criminal record can hurt your chances of applying for jobs, colleges, scholarships, and other opportunities. Typically, even smaller offenses remain on your criminal record. While employers and others typically look only for serious offenses with jail time, small offenses can still be a black mark on your record. The Atlantic City disorderly conduct defense attorneys at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych explain how long disorderly conduct charges stay on your record and how to get them removed in New Jersey. If you or your child has a disorderly conduct charge and needs it removed, call our law offices today for a free consultation.
Disorderly Conduct Record in New Jersey
Disorderly conduct is classified as a “disorderly persons offense” in NJ. Disorderly persons offenses include more than just disorderly conduct charges and are actually a whole category of crime similar to what other states call “misdemeanors.” All disorderly persons offenses in NJ carry a potential of up to 6 months in jail and have two levels of potential fines. For lesser disorderly persons offenses, called “petty” disorderly persons offenses, the max fine is $500. For all other disorderly persons offenses, the max fine is $1,000.
Disorderly persons offenses are a broad category of crimes. This means that some offenses in the category, like disorderly conduct or shoplifting, are more minor offenses. However, more serious offenses like theft or assault may fall into this category as well. Because of this, all disorderly conduct offenses are usually recorded on your criminal record.
As soon as you are convicted of a crime or plead guilty, that offense will appear on your record. This record stays as it is, and potential employers, colleges, and others can run a background check. However, just because you have a record does not mean employers will see it. Many background checks come with specific instructions to only look for certain types of offenses, or only look for more serious offenses. A crime like disorderly conduct may not appear, depending on how broad the search is. Still, a disorderly conduct conviction may hurt your chances of having an application accepted.
Expunging Disorderly Conduct Convictions in NJ
For most disorderly persons convictions, you can eventually have the charge removed from your record through “expungement.” Expungement is only available for charges and arrests that were later dropped, or for convictions that have been on your record for long enough. The government keeps records of convictions so people can use background checks as a reliable tool to uncover potentially untrustworthy or dangerous individuals. However, the stigma of a criminal record is a harsh burden to bear for many people. Because of this, the government does give paths for people to remove old charges and convictions.
For disorderly persons offenses, you must wait 5 years after a conviction to have the charge expunged from your record. In some cases, you may be eligible for a 3-year “fast track” expungement, instead. If you were arrested, but charges were dropped or dismissed, you might be able to get them expunged even earlier. For outright dismissals, you can apply for expungement immediately. If the dismissal was because you participated in a program like the Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI) or another “diversionary program,” you may be eligible for expungement after only 6 months. The time for expungement begins from the date you finish your punishment, i.e. the day you leave jail or make your last payment. If you were never convicted, it begins from the day the charges were dropped or dismissed.
To qualify for expungement, there are other factors as well. First, you must have actually finished paying all fines and facing all punishments for your charges. If you still have outstanding fines, you do not qualify for expungement. You also cannot be currently facing any charges. Expungement is only for those who have left their criminal past behind – or those who only have the one conviction to expunge. If you are currently facing other charges, even minor ones, you may not be eligible for expungement.
To ensure that your record is fully expunged, you may be able to hire an attorney to represent you during your expungement. There is a complicated filing process, a number of sworn statements you must make, and potential hearings needed to get a disorderly conduct record erased. Having the advice of an experienced defense attorney can help ensure you do everything correctly and avoid any accidentally false statements that could halt or delay your application.
Disorderly Conduct Expungement Lawyers in Atlantic City
If you or your child has a record of disorderly conduct or another disorderly persons offense, talk to an attorney about expunging the criminal record. For a free consolation on your case, contact an Atlantic City criminal defense lawyer at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych today at (609) 616-4956.