Clearing Your Record Through Expungement

What convictions are eligible for expungement in New Jersey?

Having a criminal record can seriously impact your ability to find employment, apply for loans or scholarships, and better your career.  Your criminal record will be visible to potential employers, schools, and others.  Even if you were not convicted of a particular crime, you will still have an arrest and arraignment record, which could be enough for potential employers to pass on your job application.  The good news for some people in New Jersey is that there are ways to erase your criminal record.  The process is called expungement, and while it is not an option for everyone, it can make a big difference for those who are eligible.  

What Is an Expungement?

An expungement is the removal of all records on file within the courts, correctional facilities, law enforcement agencies, and the like regarding your arrest, detention, trial, or disposition of the case.  If an expungement is granted, your arrest record will essentially be considered not to have occurred.  Your legal records will not be destroyed, but they will be moved to a special section and will not come up in ordinary searches.

What Offenses Can Be Expunged?

Not every offense can be expunged, and not every individual is eligible for expungement.  New Jersey statute allows for expungement of convictions for many indictable offenses, municipal ordinances, disorderly person offenses, and juvenile adjudications.  Your right to an expungement will depend on several factors, including whether you were arrested or convicted of the crime, the level of the crime, the total number of times you have been convicted in the past and of what crimes, whether you have ever sought expungement before, and whether you completed your sentence.  

When Can I Seek an Expungement?

Your ability to seek an expungement will depend on the offense and its adjudication.  If you were convicted of a felony, you will need to generally wait ten years to expunge the crime, but could be eligible after five years under the early pathway to expungement.  Municipal ordinances can be expunged in two years, while juvenile adjudications can seek expungement in five years.

Expungement is a complex procedure.  Consult with a New Jersey criminal defense lawyer for help with assessing your eligibility for expungement and assistance completing the multi-faceted steps to expungement.