What is an Expungement?
When a person is arrested, that person gets a criminal record. At a minimum, there is a record of an arrest. If the person is later convicted, then the person has a record of both an arrest and a conviction. These records include complaints, warrants, commitments, DNA, processing records, fingerprints, photographs, index cards, rap sheets, and judicial dockets records. Once arrested and/or convicted, a person has a criminal history. Prospective employers, insurance companies, landlords, adoption agencies, and prospective creditors can access those records.
To expunge a criminal record means to go through a court process that removes a record of arrest and conviction. Upon successful completion of that process, a person gets a court order signed by a judge. The court order states that the offense “…shall be deemed not to have occurred.” Persons doing a background check through New Jersey State Police or through the FBI will receive a response that there is “no record.” Additionally, after you expunge your criminal record, you are legally entitled to state that the arrest or conviction never happened.
Who is eligible for an Expungement?
New Jersey allows for the removal or “expungement” of certain criminal convictions and offenses. Most crime and offense convictions are eligible for expungement after a statutory waiting period. The waiting periods are as follows:
Indictable convictions: 10 years
Disorderly persons offenses: 5 years
Municipal Ordinances: 2 years
Entire Juvenile Records: 5 years
Drug Offenses for your offenders: 1 year
Arrests no resulting in convictions: immediately
Successful completion of a diversionary program: 6 month
How do I Expunge my Record?
A petition for expungement is filed with the Superior Court, Law Division. A date for your expungement hearing is scheduled and notice must be served upon various agencies. These include the Superintendent of the State Police, the Attorney General, the County Prosecutor, the Chief of Police or other executive head of the police department of the municipality wherein the offense was committed, the chief law enforcement officer of the agency involved in the arrest and the Warden of any institution in which the individual was confined. There is a time frame for any entity to object. If there is no objection, an order is signed and provided to the person requesting the expungement. That order is then sent out to the various agencies requiring the respective agencies to expunge the record.
The expungement process can be completed on your own. The New Jersey Courts provide a free “How to Expunge your Criminal and/or Juvenile Record”? Most are relatively straight forward, while others require litigation. If you need assistance filing an expungement in Burlington County you should speak with a Burlington County Criminal Lawyer to discuss your options and likelihood of success.