How to Expunge a Felony
An expungement is a cleansing of a criminal charge from one’s record. Any person can file for expungement of a prior criminal offense in New Jersey, up to and including certain felony (indictable) offenses. However, according to New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice 2C:52-14, a person may be denied any future petition for expungement if that person has already had a criminal conviction expunged in the past (there are two narrow exceptions to this rule).
Standard Waiting Period
The waiting time to expunge one’s record after a conviction varies depending on the degree of the conviction. N.J.S.A 2C:52-2 defines the waiting period to expunge a felony (also known as an indictable offense). Under normal circumstances, a person must wait a minimum of 6 years from the date of the person’s conviction, payment of fine, completion of probation or parole, or release from incarceration, whichever of these dates is the latest. However, most people qualify to expunge their felony in 5 years under the exception detailed below.
There are two exceptions to the ten-year standard.
- The court may consider a petition for expungement if less than six years has passed from the payment of a fine, but ten years has passed from any of the other criteria, and the person has thus far complied with a payment plan in accordance with N.J.S.A 2C:46-1.
- In addition, the court may consider a petition for expungement if
- at least five years have passed since the date of the person’s conviction, payment of fine, completion of probation or parole, or release from incarceration, whichever is later,
- the person has not been convicted of any crimes, disorderly persons offenses, or petty disorderly persons offenses since the conviction in question, and
- the court determines that expungement would be in the best interest of the public.
You were convicted of the sale or distribution of marijuana (under 25 grams) on Feburary 30, 2012, and were sentenced to 18 months of incarceration (parole ineligible) and a fine of $25,000. If you were to pay the fine in full immediately after your release from incarceration, the ten year clock would start ticking on August 31, 2014, meaning you would be eligible to petition for expungement on August 31, 2020 (6 years). However, you could still be considered eligible to petition on this date if you had not yet paid the fine in full, but were holding to a payment plan issued by the court. Finally, you could be eligible to petition for expungement as early as August 31, 2019 (5 years) if you are not convicted of any other offenses since the conviction you wish to expunge, and the court believes that your expungement would be in the public interest.