How Criminal Records Expungement Works in New Jersey
Having a criminal record may make you ineligible to rent an apartment, own a gun, vote, volunteer, or engage in other activities. However, getting a charge expunged from your record may make it harder for anyone to learn about any charges that you have faced in the past. In New Jersey, it may be possible to expunge a variety of felony and misdemeanor offenses.
Petitioning for Expungement
In most cases, you’ll need to petition the court in the jurisdiction where you were convicted to ask to have eligible offenses expunged. If you were charged or convicted of a drug crime, you’ll need to petition the drug court that handled your case. Depending on when your crimes occurred, it may be possible to start the process prior to graduating from drug court.
The courts may make an exception for those who are eligible to have their cases handled under New Jersey’s Clean Slate expungement rules. If you qualify, your record will be expunged 10 years after you have completed your sentence, which may include fines or other costs. Your Morristown criminal defense lawyer may be able to provide more information as to whether you qualify under the Clean Slate program. An attorney may also help with the process of sealing records that may be eligible to be expunged in less than 10 years.
There Are Limits to What Can Be Expunged
Typically, you can have one indictable offense removed from your record five years after you have complied with all the terms of your sentence. An indictable offense is equivalent to a felony in other states. You may also have up to five disorderly persons offenses expunged five years after you have completed your sentences for those. If you are cited for an infraction, you can have it expunged after two years, and there is no limit to the number of infractions that can be expunged.
As a general rule, sexual offenses involving children cannot be expunged. These offenses may include engaging in sexual activity with a minor or possessing any type of child pornography. You may also be charged or convicted of a crime simply by viewing objectionable materials featuring a minor, and it’s unlikely that a charge or conviction for this could be expunged.
Many traffic offenses including driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol are not eligible to be expunged. Arson, treason, and perjury are other examples of significant crimes that cannot be expunged in most circumstances.
Your Record Doesn’t Disappear, However
While records are generally hidden from public view after they are expunged, they do not go away completely. This means that law enforcement agencies, licensing boards, and other agencies may find out that your record has been expunged or may learn details about a prior case. It’s worth noting that you aren’t legally required in most cases to disclose the presence of a prior charge or conviction that has been expunged. Furthermore, employers may be limited in what they can do with any information that they find in a background check if you have had previous charges or convictions expunged.
Juvenile Crimes May Be Expunged
If you committed offenses as a juvenile, it may be possible to have them expunged three years after you have finished your sentence. Furthermore, you must prove that you haven’t been charged with a crime as an adult, have no charges pending, and have not had offenses committed as an adult expunged. You will need to attend a hearing and notify law enforcement of an expungement if one is granted.
If you are in need of a Morristown criminal defense lawyer to handle this type of a matter, don’t hesitate to contact Gregg Wisotsky today. You can do so by calling 973-898-0161 or by sending a message through our website.