New Jersey Expungement Law Overview
In New Jersey, expungment is a useful means of protecting a person’s privacy. It allows criminal records deemed not inherently dangerous to be isolated. This prevents the public from gaining access to a person’s criminal record. Protecting the privacy of a person’s criminal record poses two legal issues: 1) who is eligible for expungement and 2) the legal advantages of expungement.
Eligibility for expungement
Eligibility for expungment is determined by the type of crime committed, by how many years have passed after the crime, and by the particular state where the crime took place. In New Jersey, a number of convictions can be expunged including disorderly conduct, theft and shoplifting, drug related offenses, municipal violations, misdemeanors, felonies, and juvenile offenses. After one has completed the sentence for their crime, sufficient time needs to pass to apply for an expungement. Learn more about the required waiting period.
Even if a person is never convicted, he will retain an arrest record that can only be cleared by an expungement. This can be the case if the person is found not guilty, enrolls in a diversionary program, or the charges are dismissed for other reasons. Certain crimes are not eligible for expungement in New Jersey. These include inherently dangerous crimes such as sexual offenses, robbery, and kidnapping. Furthermore, traffic offenses like speeding, parking tickets, and driving while intoxicated (DWI) are not eligible for expungement. (N.J.S.A 2C:52-28). With a few exceptions, these violations appear on your traffic, not criminal, record. However there are a few may be a few exceptions.
Advantages of expungement
Expungement allows a person to start his/her life all over again without the negative effects of having a criminal record. A person can apply for jobs, such as a nurse, without having to disclose their criminal record. This is because an expunged crime is considered, legally, to have never happened. Criminal background checks will not pick up any expunged criminal records. The FBI record of the crime will be cleared. The only time a person is obligated to disclose their criminal record is when applying for a job in law enforcement, the judicial government branch, or corrections. Also, an immigrant who has a criminal record may need to disclose his criminal background upon reentry into the country. Learn more about the effects of an expungement.
Additional Information about expungement
Notice of an expungement hearing is given to people including the Superintendent of State Police, the Attorney General, the county prosecutor of the county where the hearing is located, and chief police or executive head of the police department where the crime took place. (N.J.S.A 2C:52-10). A court appearance is usually not required for an expungement hearing, but may be needed if someone objects to the expungement or in a case of expunging an arrest and/or conviction for possessing a controlled substance with intent to distribute. It usually takes up to four or more months to expunge a criminal record. Learn more about the New Jersey expungement process.