In New Jersey, if you have been arrested or convicted for any non-traffic offense, then you will have a criminal record and history. Fortunately, there is a legal process known as an expungement.
An expungement means that your criminal record is sealed from public view. It is important to note from the outset that your criminal record is not destroyed but is erased from the state’s criminal case management database. An expungement is in many ways an opportunity for a fresh start, as a properly executed expungement order will remove not only a record of conviction but also any record pertaining to an arrest, trial, or judgment entered by the court. If your expungement is granted, all your records with the court, detention center, and correctional facility will be removed from New Jersey’s criminal case management database, which is reported to the FBI for similar removal.
Our South Jersey expungement attorneys can help you get started if you are interested in expunging your criminal record. For a free evaluation of your case, call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956.
How Do I Know if I Have a Criminal Record?
Not everyone is even aware they have a criminal record. A middle-aged person convicted of a crime when they were 18 might have long forgotten about their criminal record until it pops up in a background check when they interview for a new job. If you are unsure about the status of your record, our South Jersey expungement lawyers can help you obtain a copy.
Not every violation ends up in your criminal record. Infractions like traffic violations or minor citations often do not end up on your record. In many cases, these small offenses are not even legally considered crimes. However, many people have a mix of minor violations and serious convictions, leaving room for a bit of confusion about what exactly is contained in their criminal records.
Information about your criminal record can be obtained through the New Jersey State Police. Under the law, only certain people or entities are allowed access to criminal records and only for certain reasons. Government entities, people performing background checks, lawyers, and private detectives can request information about criminal records. Individual people can also make such requests, but only about their own records.
Getting a copy of your criminal record is not as easy as submitting a form and waiting for a response. The police must first verify your identity and process your request. Our South Jersey expungement attorneys can help you get a copy of your records and then review them to determine if an expungement is right for your situation.
What is an Expungement in South Jersey?
An expungement is a court order that seals all records pertaining to a criminal offense. While many defendants focus on expunging records of convictions, other records can also be expunged. Perhaps you were charged but not convicted, or arrested but never charged. In such cases, our South Jersey expungement attorneys can help you expunge records of arrests, judicial proceedings, and more.
Expungements do not destroy all records of your conviction and arrest. Instead, the records are sealed and cannot be disclosed to anyone. In fact, if someone inquired about your criminal history – like a potential employer performing a background check – they would be informed that the records do not exist. They are not informed about the expungement.
After an expungement, you are not required to disclose the existence of your conviction. If you are applying for a professional license that requires a clean criminal record, you are permitted to inform the relevant licensing board that you have no record, nothing more. However, courts and other government entities may know about the existence of your record, although they cannot access it.
What Are the Benefits of Having an Expungement?
The process of having your criminal record expunged is by no means easy, nor is it short. However, those who have struggled with their criminal past and have had their records expunged will tell you that the wait is worth the benefits. Some of the biggest benefits of having your record expunged include:
- Jobs – It is common for employers to conduct a criminal background check before hiring an applicant. Those with criminal records will tell you that they are often turned away from jobs they are qualified for merely because they have a criminal history.
- Licenses – Certain professions such as contractors, attorneys, doctors, and even real estate agents require state-issued licenses. While you must still disclose that you have a criminal record to the respective licensing agencies, these licensing agencies will be more likely to issue you a state license than if you did not have your record expunged.
- Satisfaction – One of the biggest complaints those with criminal records will share is that they feel that they are being constantly punished for their crimes long after they have served their time in prison or went through rehabilitation. An expungement is a way for those with criminal records to have more closure with their past.
There are many other benefits of having an expungement order granted. Those applying for loans or home mortgages often find that their criminal history is the reason they are denied. An expungement is a way for many people to continue with their lives, look for better jobs, and put their past behind them. Our South Jersey expungement lawyers can help you determine if you are eligible and get you started.
What is the Expungement Process in New Jersey?
There is more than one way to expunge criminal records in New Jersey. The expungement process in your case depends on the convictions on your record that you want to be expunged. If your entire record can be expunged, you might be able to take advantage of a Clean Slate expungement. Alternatively, you can file a petition to expunge specific records. In either case, our South Jersey expungement lawyers can help you begin your expungement process.
Clean Slate Expungements
A Clean Slate expungement is a relatively new type of expungement process in New Jersey. A Clean Slate expungement is an expungement that may happen if you have remained free of criminal convictions for at least 10 years. If eligible, you may have your entire criminal record expunged all at once.
Your entire record should be eligible for expungement to be eligible for a Clean Slate expungement. If you have any ineligible convictions on your record, you cannot take advantage of a Clean Slate expungement. People with relatively short criminal records who have had no criminal issues for at least a decade may find a Clean Slate expungement ideal for their situation.
Many states offer similar expungements to New Jersey’s clean slate expungements. In other states, the process is automatic. In New Jersey, you must still petition for a Clean Slate expungement. Our South Jersey expungement lawyers can help you get the paperwork and forms started.
Petition for Expungement
If you are not eligible for a Clean Slate expungement, you must file an ordinary petition for an expungement with the courts. This process requires you to obtain copies of your records from the New Jersey State Police, as mentioned above. Once you have your criminal record, our South Jersey expungement attorneys can help you complete your petition for the expungement and the order for a hearing that must be filed along with your petition.
Your next step is to actually file the forms and paperwork with the court. When filing, you must be mindful of court-specific filing rules, such as how many copies are required and where they are to be submitted. Our South Jersey expungement attorneys are familiar with many courts in the region and can help you file your forms.
Be warned that it may take time to get your convictions expunged. Courts often take months before reaching a final decision. If granted, you must distribute your expungement orders to the relevant government entities that have your records. The order lets these entities know to seal your records. If you do not distribute the expungement orders, your records will not be expunged.
What Offenses Can be Expunged?
The first step in seeking to have your record expunged is for you to find out if your past does, in fact, qualify for an expungement. The New Jersey expungement law states in detail who is eligible for an expungement. The currently applicable provisions of N.J.S.A. 2C:52-1 through N.J.S.A. 2C:52-32 provide that the following can generally be expunged from a person’s criminal record:
- Indictable offenses
• Disorderly persons offenses
• Municipal ordinance violations
• Juvenile delinquency offenses
• Young drug offender records
• Arrests no convictions
An expungement is intended to provide relief to the offenders who have led respectable lives and have disassociated with unlawful activity. That is why many of these offenses are considered non-violent or regulatory. Many defendants’ criminal records are mixed bags of offenses, with some convictions being eligible and others not. Our South Jersey expungement lawyers can help you figure out if your record is eligible for expungement or if other options should be explored.
What Offenses Cannot Be Expunged?
Unfortunately, not every criminal offense can be removed from a person’s criminal record. This is often the first step in the expungement process because it is important from the outset to determine if you can even qualify for an expungement. The following offenses cannot be expunged from your criminal record:
- 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 attempts to commit such crimes.
While many have called for more expansive expungement laws, the abovementioned offenses cannot currently be expunged from your record. If you have one or more of the above-listed offenses in your criminal history, our South Jersey expungement lawyers can help you explore other legal options to deal with your record.
If You Are Seeking Help with Your Criminal Record, Contact an Atlantic City Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
Filing for an expungement is a technical and multifaceted process, and it is easy to make a mistake. The experienced South Jersey expungement lawyers of the Law Offices of John J. Zarych are dedicated to fighting for people accused or convicted of a crime. To schedule a free and confidential case evaluation, call us at (609) 616-4956.