What is The Purpose and Process to Get an Expungement in New Jersey?

As your experienced NJ expungement lawyer will tell you, an expungement in New Jersey means that a prior criminal conviction will be removed from your record and isolated from your file. An expungement will remove all records regarding a criminal conviction held at any court, correctional facility, criminal justice facility, or detention center. If granted, the expungement will remove records regarding the person’s arrest, trial, and decisions made in the legal proceeding. Unless otherwise directed by applicable law, for expunged juvenile offenses it is as if the event never occurred. However, New Jersey Law sets forth strict eligibility grounds for expungement which are codified in N.J.S.A. 2C:52-1 through N.J.S.A. 2C:52-32.

While it is certainly possible to determine on your own if you are eligible, engaging the legal process is can be complex and improper filings may affect your future ability to secure relief. Furthermore, a recent New Jersey Supreme Court decision holding that only those who have engaged in a single, isolated criminal act are eligible for expungement has limited those who are eligible. The experienced and dedicated NJ expungement attorneys of the Law Firm of John J. Zarych can guide your through each and every step of the expungement process.

man in jeans arrested for casino crime

Why Do People Seek Expungements?

In today’s day and age, everyone is risk adverse. Unfortunately for job seekers with a criminal conviction mid-sized to large companies and corporations are some of the most risk-adverse entities out there. Most larger businesses engage in background checks, criminal history checks, and other screening processes. If your record is marred by even a single criminal conviction, the company may decide to look elsewhere in its pool of applicants for the position.

Most people believe that a single isolated mistake – perhaps due to drugs or petty theft — should not keep them from achieving their goals. The expungement process allows law-abiding individuals who made one unfortunate decision to secure relief from the stigma of a criminal conviction. The expungement process can give these individuals a fresh start with a clean criminal record so that they can allow their abilities and talents to shine through the storm caused by the previous conviction.

What is the Process to Secure an Expungement?

The process for each matter is unique and based on the facts, circumstances, concerns, and other factors that may be present. Before taking any substantive legal action, we urge you to first consult with experienced and qualified NJ engagement counsel. However, a generalized approach to an expungement follows.

First, if the individual has not already obtained his or her criminal or juvenile records these must be obtained. The first step in accessing these records is submitting to fingerprinting. You will be required to set-up an appointment with the private fingerprinting vendor utilized by the New Jersey State Police. If you were not fingerprinted at the time of your arrest, you will likely be required to take a different approach since your records are unlikely to appear in the system used by the State Police.

Once your record has been obtained, you must complete and file a Petition for Expungement, Order for Hearing, a cover letter, and a proposed Expungement Order. Once you have filed these documents, they will be returned by the court and you MUST make copies of and distribute in a timely manner a copy to each of the governmental agencies involved in your case including:

  • The NJ Attorney General
  • County prosecutor
  • Superintended of the NJ State Police, Expungement Unit
  • Clerk of the municipal court
  • Warden of the facility where you were incarcerated
  • Chief of Police or other head of the police department

Some courts will require you to submit proof of notice in the matter. You should check with the clerk of the applicable Criminal Case Management Office to determine whether the court requires this proof to be submitted prior to the hearing.

Next, you will attend and argue for your expungement at an in court hearing. One of the law enforcement agencies may object to your petition. However, if there are no objections you may receive an expungement without a hearing. If your expungement is granted by the judge, you must distribute the signed consent order to each of the parties included in the list above along with any other applicable parties.

judges gavel and case book

Seeking an Expungement? Rely on Our Experience

Filing for an expungement is a technical and multi-faceted process where it is easy to make an error or mistake if you are unfamiliar or uncertain as to the next step. The experienced criminal defense and expungement lawyers of the Law Firm of John J. Zarych are dedicated to fighting for people accused of or convicted of a crime. To schedule a free and confidential expungement consultation call us at (609) 616-4956 or contact us online today.

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