New Jersey Expungement Lawyers
Everyone has things in their past that they are not proud of, however, almost nothing haunts a person like having a criminal record. Fortunately, expungement exists to help New Jersey residents start anew after a criminal conviction.
If you have a criminal record, you may be able to get it expunged in New Jersey. However, it is important to note that not all New Jersey offenses are expungable. If you qualify for expungement, you may have to wait several years before you can file. The expungement process can be lengthy and complex, which is why it benefits New Jersey residents to hire an experienced lawyer. Ultimately, getting your criminal record expunged can allow you to wipe the slate clean and move forward with your life.
With over 45 years of combined experience, we bring our professional services to you, so that you can move on from your past and expunge your criminal record. For a free case evaluation with the New Jersey expungement lawyers at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych, call today at (609) 445-3728.
What is an Expungement in New Jersey?
When a police officer makes an arrest, that person will then have a criminal record detailing their arrest and perhaps subsequent conviction of a crime. In New Jersey, individuals with criminal records may be able to get their offenses expunged.
Getting an expungement can be incredibly beneficial for New Jersey residents with criminal records. A criminal record can follow a person for years, and many people find that having a criminal record in today’s competitive job market makes it almost impossible for them to find a job. Others report that it is harder for them to find housing, as many landlords will deny them on the basis of their criminal history.
Having to deal with a criminal record in almost every part of their lives is often why people want to have their record expunged. An expungement is a way for certain criminal acts to be effectively erased from your criminal record, meaning that they will not show up if an employer or landlord runs your criminal history. While expungement cannot be used for all criminal offenses, there are many New Jersey criminal offenses, which can be expunged.
However, while it is possible to have some criminal offenses expunged in New Jersey, it does not mean that the process is easy. The process includes complicated forms and paperwork, and an application. Hiring an experienced New Jersey expungement lawyer can help individuals seeking expungement navigate the challenging process and successfully erase previous convictions from their criminal records.
What Offenses Can be Expunged in New Jersey
The New Jersey Expungement statutes provide that only certain offenses can be removed from a criminal record. The Expungement statutes N.J.S.A. § 2C:52-2-32 provide that the following criminal offenses can be expunged:
- Indictable offenses
- Disorderly persons offenses
- Municipal ordinance violations
- Juvenile delinquency offenses
- Young drug offender records
- Arrests with no convictions
It is important to note that you cannot have a record automatically expunged. In fact, there is a significant waiting period for certain offenses. If you were convicted of one of the above criminal offenses, reach out to a New Jersey expungement lawyer to learn more about the possibility of expungement.
What Offenses Cannot be Expunged in New Jersey
While some criminal offenses qualify for expungement, many do not. Generally, very serious criminal convictions are not eligible for expungement in New Jersey, regardless of how much time has passed since a defendant has completed their sentence.
The New Jersey Expungement statutes also provide for certain offenses that cannot be expunged from a person’s criminal history. The following is a comprehensive list of all non-expungable criminal offenses in New Jersey:
- Criminal homicide (except death by auto as specified in N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5)
- Human trafficking
- Luring or enticing
- Sexual assault or aggravated sexual assault
- Aggravated criminal sexual contact
- Criminal sexual contact (if the victim is a minor)
- Criminal restraint or false imprisonment (if the victim is a minor and the offender is not the parent of the victim)
- Arson and related offenses
- Producing or possessing chemical weapons, biological agents, or nuclear or radiological devices
- Endangering the welfare of a child by engaging in sexual conduct that would impair or debauch the morals of the child or cause the child other harm
- Photographing or filming a child in a prohibited sexual act
- Causing or permitting a child to engage in a prohibited sexual act
- Distributing, possessing with the intent to distribute, or using a file-sharing program to store items depicting the sexual exploitation or abuse of a child
- Possessing or viewing items depicting the sexual exploitation or abuse of a child
- Knowingly promoting the prostitution of the actor’s child
- False swearing
- Conspiracies or attempt to commit such crimes
While there have been recent changes to the expungement laws which have made it easier for New Jersey residents to have their records expunged, the above offenses cannot be removed from your criminal record.
Applying for a “Clean Slate” Expungement in New Jersey
Many people do not meet the standard eligibility requirements for an expungement, but they do not have any convictions on their records that are barred from expungement. In such cases, a clean slate expungement might be possible. This expungement seals a person’s entire criminal record if they meet the eligibility criteria. Our New Jersey expungement lawyers can help you determine if a clean slate expungement is a viable option for your case.
Clean slate expungements are described under N.J.S.A. § 2C:52-5.3 and may be helpful for those with multiple convictions as long as none of those convictions are prohibited from expungement. Ordinarily, expungements are available only to those with very limited criminal records. In many cases, people with more than one conviction are not eligible. A clean slate expungement is available to people convicted of one or more offenses not barred from expungement.
You can file for a clean slate expungement if at least ten years have elapsed since your most recent conviction and you have completed all sentencing requirements, including fines, incarceration, probation, and parole. This is longer than most wait times for other types of expungements, but the trade-off is that your whole record is wiped clean.
When Can I File for Expungement in New Jersey
While certain convictions are eligible for expungement in New Jersey, not all expungements follow the same timeline. Depending on the crime you wish to erase from your criminal record, you may have to wait longer than you might expect to file for expungement.
Arrests with No Convictions
The more serious an offense is, the longer New Jersey residents will have to wait before they can file for expungement. For arrests with no convictions, the wait time is almost non-existent. Individuals arrested but not convicted of a crime in New Jersey can generally file for expungement right away. That being said, individuals who were not convicted of a crime as a result of New Jersey’s Diversion Program may have to wait six months before they can file for expungement.
Having an arrest on your record, even with no conviction for that arrest, can be damaging for New Jersey residents. If you qualify for immediate expungement, reach out to a New Jersey expungement lawyer right away. Getting the expungement process started immediately is wise, so an arrest does not impact your life.
Disorderly Persons Offenses
Depending on the circumstances of your arrest and subsequent conviction for a disorderly persons offense, you may receive a short prison sentence or face a fine. Generally, individuals convicted of a disorderly persons offense in New Jersey can file for expungement five years after completing their sentence or probation or paying the necessary fines. In some cases, a New Jersey expungement lawyer may be able to begin the process sooner, within three years of a completed sentence.
Juvenile Delinquency Offenses
If you were arrested and convicted of a juvenile delinquency offense in your youth, you will, unfortunately, have to wait several years before you can file for expungement. Generally, individuals convicted of juvenile delinquency offenses in New Jersey can only begin the expungement process five years after completing a sentence.
Young Drug Offender Records
While drug offenses are often taken very seriously throughout New Jersey, young drug offenders are often able to file for expungement relatively quickly after serving a sentence. Generally, young drug offenders only have to wait one year before they can file for expungement in New Jersey. That being said, it is wise to hire a New Jersey expungement lawyer immediately after receiving a conviction. The preparation required to file for expungement can be complicated, which is why it can benefit young drug offenders to begin the process right away.
Municipal Ordinance Violations
While municipal ordinance violations are not considered very serious crimes in New Jersey, those convicted of such violations may have to wait longer than they expect to file for expungement. In New Jersey, individuals with municipal ordinance violation convictions must wait two years before they can begin to file for expungement.
Indicatable Criminal Offenses
Indicatable criminal offenses are perhaps the most serious convictions eligible for expungement in New Jersey. If you were convicted of an indictable criminal offense in New Jersey, you will have to wait ten years after completing your sentence or probation before filing for expungement. Although these crimes are eligible for erasure, getting them expunged can be more difficult. Hiring a New Jersey expungement lawyer is crucial for individuals with indictable criminal offense convictions to get their convictions successfully erased from their criminal records.
What Are the Steps to Getting an Expungement in New Jersey?
Getting a criminal record expunged in New Jersey can be a long, difficult process. If your previous convictions are eligible for expungement, hire an experienced attorney who can help you wipe the slate clean and move on with your life.
The first step in getting your New Jersey criminal record expunged is being eligible. Remember, depending on the crime you were convicted of, it may be several years before you are eligible for expungement.
The second step is to gather the necessary documents. This is just one example of why hiring a skilled New Jersey expungement lawyer is crucial. New Jersey residents must be able to provide documents and information relating to their prior convictions when filing for expungement. This includes information like the details regarding your arrest and original court documents.
Next, individuals seeking an expungement in New Jersey must file a petition for expungement in with county they were arrested and convicted in. Your attorney will help you navigate these complex documents and file and distribute them to the appropriate parties.
There will likely be a hearing after you file a petition for expungement in New Jersey. The presiding judge will have already assessed your petition for expungement. A judge may ask you questions or hear objections from law enforcement officials. A New Jersey judge will grant expungement without a hearing in some instances. If your expungement is granted, your attorney will distribute that information to the necessary parties.
It is crucial that New Jersey residents seeking expungement follow the necessary steps. Even one mistake throughout the process can impede your ability to get previous criminal convictions expunged from your record. To ensure that the process goes smoothly and that you have the best chance of getting a conviction erased from your criminal record, hire a New Jersey expungement lawyer.
Steps to Take After Your Expungement is Granted in New Jersey
Once a judge grants your expungement, the hard part is over, but there is still work left to do. Now, we must let all the government agencies that have copies of your criminal record know that your record has been expunged. One might assume that a government entity like the court system would be better able to notify other government entities of a court order granting an expungement. Still, this duty falls to you and your attorney. Our New Jersey expungement lawyers can help you serve copies of your court order to all necessary parties, so your records are completely sealed.
Possible government agencies we must notify include police departments, other courts, probation agencies, the FBI, prosecutors, prisons, and any other agencies that maintain your criminal record. It is important that we serve the court order to all necessary agencies because if an agency is left out, they will not seal your records.
It is also worth noting that this process does not happen automatically. Once all appropriate agencies have been served with a copy of the court order granting your expungement, these agencies will take some time to verify the order before sealing your records. Depending on the agency, this might take several weeks or longer.
Can I Expunge Convictions from Other States in New Jersey?
It is not unusual for someone seeking an expungement in New Jersey to have a conviction or arrest record in another state. For example, suppose you moved from Pennsylvania to New Jersey for a job and now wish to expunge your criminal record. Any convictions, arrests, or other details on your record from Pennsylvania cannot be expunged in New Jersey.
This presents a significant roadblock to people who want their entire record wiped clean, but this hurdle is not insurmountable. To expunge your record in another state, you must file for an expungement in that state. Using the example from before, you would need to go back to Pennsylvania and speak to an attorney about filing for an expungement in that state. You should understand that different states might have different rules regarding expungements, and it might be harder to expunge your convictions from other states.
The reverse of this scenario involves people living in other states with convictions in New Jersey that they want to be expunged. In that case, you can contact our New Jersey expungement attorneys for help. Much of the work required to file an expungement petition may be done in your absence, but there might be hearings you are required to attend.
The Benefits of Expungement in New Jersey
Having a criminal record can haunt you for years, and it can seem that having a criminal history can impact almost every facet of your life. That is why many people begin the process of having their criminal record expunged, or at least begin to ask if they can have their record expunged.
Getting a Job
Having a criminal history can greatly impact your career and can hinder or altogether halt your job search. Most employers will conduct a background search before they offer employment, and having a criminal history can impact whether or not an employer will hire you. If you successfully have your record expunged, then you can truthfully answer no to any employment questionnaire that asks if you have been convicted of a crime eligible for expungement.
Many licensing agencies will require a background check before you can be given a license, such as a contractor’s license. It is important to note that even after an offense has been expunged from your record, you would still be required to disclose your record. However, many agencies that award licenses will consider your expunged records and any other completed probation programs as a positive factor in awarding you a license.
Perhaps one of the major benefits that a person can derive from having their New Jersey criminal record expunged, is a sense of personal satisfaction. Many of individuals with criminal records report that they feel a sense of continuing guilt for their past even years after serving their sentence and going through probation. These feelings can be even greater when a person has been a model citizen since their offense.
There are many other collateral benefits of having your record expunged, however, the process if not always easy. Many people report that starting the expungement process on their own is filled with questions and anxiety as they try to file all the proper paperwork. Working with a skilled criminal attorney who has experience helping New Jersey residents expunge their criminal records is one of the best ways to expedite the process, and to ensure that you can start the process of having your criminal history erased.
The Cost of Getting an Expungement in New Jersey
Before filing an expungement petition, people usually want to know what kind of costs and fees they can expect to encounter. Some fees, like filing fees, are the same for everyone. Other legal fees, like those paid to an attorney, may vary based on your situation. Our New Jersey expungement attorneys can help you file your petition and work with you so you can afford it.
Filing petitions and other documents with the court is not usually a free service. When filing an expungement petition, you can expect to pay a fee of about $75. This fee might vary based on which county you are filing in. Additionally, you might have to pay fees to obtain other documentation required for your petition. For example, there might be a fee to obtain an official copy of your criminal record.
You must also consider your legal fees paid to your attorney. This is somewhat harder to pin down because fees are often assessed based on your case’s complexity and the attorney’s skills and experience. Some lawyers might charge a flat fee paid upfront. Others might charge by the hour or allow you to pay based on what you can afford. A more experienced attorney will likely charge a higher fee because you are not only paying for their services but also their years of experience. You can discuss the issues of fees when you contact our New Jersey expungement attorneys about your case.
What if I Cannot Get My Record Expunged in New Jersey?
If you cannot get your record expunged, you might still have other legal options to explore. However, these options might present their own unique challenges and hurdles. One option is to seek a pardon. If you are unsure of your eligibility for an expungement, speak to our New Jersey expungement lawyers, and we can help you explore other options if necessary.
A pardon is granted by the governor and may apply to any case that does not involve impeachment or treason. This means people convicted of serious offenses ineligible for expungement may be pardoned. To get a pardon, you need a very good reason. Simply wanting to clear your record is not enough. For example, if your criminal record prevents you from taking advantage of unique job or education opportunities, you might apply for a pardon. Alternatively, the governor might review your case if you face deportation because of your record.
There are no formal requirements for a pardon, but you should be able to show evidence of your good behavior and rehabilitation after your conviction. It should be noted that pardons are rare, and the majority of pardon applications are denied. Even so, this might be your best bet if an expungement is impossible.
Rely on the Experience of Our New Jersey Expungement Lawyers to Seal Your Criminal Record
Our experienced criminal defense and expungement lawyers are dedicated to fighting for people accused of or convicted of a crime. For a free case evaluation with the New Jersey expungement lawyers at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych, call today at (609) 445-3728.