What is an Expungement
According to New Jersey law, an expungement is the removal of all records on file from any court, detention/correctional facility, law enforcement or criminal justice agency or juvenile justice agency. The records that are removed concern an individual’s arrest, detention, trial or ruling within the criminal or juvenile justice system. If records are expunged, those records and any related proceedings are considered to have never happened. However, the records are not destroyed. They are isolated, moved to a different location and saved separately. Consequently, if a search is conducted, no records of arrests or convictions will be found. (N.J.S. 2C:52-1).
There are certain situations, however, when an expungement is not effective, and the records can be found or used. For example, if a person is applying to work at a law enforcement agency, correctional facility, the judicial branch of government, if there is a sentencing for a new offense, or if a person is seeking a conditional discharge after there was a previous conditional discharge the records may be consulted. However, expungements are effective in most circumstances.
In New Jersey, there are only certain types of offenses that can be expunged. The process by which one qualifies for an expungement is quite complicated. The fastest way to find out if you’re eligible is to take our free expungement eligibility test.
All convictions require a waiting time before they can be expunged. The waiting time differs depending on the nature of the conviction. For felonies, the waiting time is ten years. However, an application can be made after five years if granting the expungement is in the public interest. If one is convicted of the misdemeanor of either disorderly persons offense or petty disorderly persons offense, the waiting time is five years. The waiting period for juvenile adjudication is five years or a period for an equivalent offense if committed by an adult, whichever is less. If an individual is convicted of violating a municipal ordinance, the waiting time is two years. Young drug offenders (twenty one years of age or younger) must wait one year. If one receives a dismissal following the completion of diversion, the waiting time is six months. The above waiting period begins at the time of the sentencing, payment of fines, successful parole/probation, or completion of a jail/prison sentence, whichever is later. It does not begin on the date of the offense.
Further, if a case has been dismissed and there is no conviction, there is no waiting time. Also, if an individual has been arrested but not convicted (found not guilty), or the charges have been dropped, expungement may occur without a waiting time. For example, if an individual is arrested or held to answer for a crime, even if it is as extreme as arson or murder, that person can have his record expunged if he is found not guilty or the case is dismissed.
f an individual is deemed to be not guilty of a crime by reason of insanity or lack of mental capacity, those records cannot be expunged. Additionally, final restraining orders arising from domestic violence situations cannot be expunged. Certain offenses cannot be expunged, including motor vehicle offenses (driving while intoxicated), serious violent crimes ( murder, robbery, kidnapping, etc.), and sexual offenses against children (lewd conduct with a minor). Lastly, if an individual has been convicted of more than three disorderly persons offenses or two indictable offenses, that individual cannot get an expungement.