Are Expunged Records Destroyed?
No. Expunged records are not destroyed, but rather set aside. The files are removed from public record and isolated. Destroyed records would be literally put through a paper shredder. There would be no record of them, anywhere. This is not the case in an expungement. The only time any record can be completely destroyed in New Jersey is when specifically mandated by law. Despite this, if someone’s record is expunged, he or she can, in most cases, honestly deny the existence of the expunged records if asked.
Expungement vs. Sealing of Records
There is a difference between records that are expunged and records that are sealed. Legally, any record that has been expunged is considered to not have happened, and is also not available to the public. Alternatively, records that are sealed are not available to the public but are legally considered to exist and have happened.
Who Can See My Expunged Record?
The public, including potential employers, cannot see an expunged record. However, certain legal and judicial offices may be able to access them. These offices include, but are not limited to: departments of corrections; violent crimes compensations boards; parole boards; judges, prosecutors, probation departments, and the Attorney General in reference to a bail hearing or sentencing; a judge in regards to that judge’s decision to allow the person to join a supervisory treatment program; and finally the Superior Court may permit the inspection or release of expunged or sealed files in certain circumstances. (See: N.J.S. 2C:52-18-2C:52-23).
Am I Required to Disclose Expunged Records?
In most circumstances, you are not required to disclose information on expunged records. The records are isolated from the public and treated as if they do not exist. (N.J.S. 2C:52-27) In addition, it is illegal to disclose such information. Any person who discloses information on expunged records knowing that they have been expunged is considered to have committed a disorderly persons offense (misdemeanor) and may be subject to a fine of up to $200. (N.J.S. 2C:52-30).
When Do I Have to Disclose My Expunged Records?
When applying for a job in the judicial branch, a law enforcement agency, or a correctional facility, you must reveal any and all expunged records. In addition, any expungement regarding charges that were dismissed due to acceptance into a supervisory treatment program must also be revealed to any judge who must determine if you will be accepted into another such program for later charges.