Arrests and criminal convictions rarely only affect a person’s life while their criminal case is open or while they are serving their sentence. Depending on the severity of the offense, a past arrest or criminal charge can negatively impact a person’s life for years to come, hindering their employment prospects and preventing them from re-assimilating into society. Fortunately, certain individuals in New Jersey who meet specific requirements may petition with the court to remove all records of their criminal history through a process known as expungement, allowing them to live free from the shadow of their past mistakes. But how exactly does this process work?
What Exactly Is an Expungement?
An expungement, also known as an expunction, allows you to have your arrest records, court records, incarceration records, and background check entries separated from your personal records and hidden from view by members of the public, employers, background checks, and many others. Once your criminal history is expunged, you will be able to legally deny that your criminal incident ever occurred, protecting you from discrimination by employers and others based on your criminal history.
Who Can Get an Expungement in New Jersey?
Requirements for expungement vary depending on the crime committed and whether a person was convicted or received deferred adjudication. Those who were not convicted of a crime may petition for an expungement under either of the following circumstances:
- The proceedings against the defendant were dismissed, or
- The defendant was acquitted or otherwise not found guilty
Individuals who were found not guilty due to insanity or lack of mental capacity may not have their records expunged. If a defendant’s dismissal was dependent on the completion of a supervised treatment program, they may pursue an expungement six months after completion.
If a person was convicted, an expungement can be pursued after the associated waiting period has passed. Waiting periods are as follows:
- Indictable offenses: 10 years, though some may be petitioned for after 5 years
- Disorderly person offenses: 5 years
- Municipal ordinance violations: 2 years
- Minor drug offenses: 1 year for first-time offenders under age 21
There are certain exceptions to this rule. Most motor vehicle violations cannot be expunged, as well as any offenses listed under Section 2C:52-2 of the New Jersey Statutes, such as serious drug crimes, murder, sex crimes, arson, child endangerment, and more. It is important you consult with a knowledgeable attorney to determine your eligibility.
Pursue a Clean Slate Today
While an expungement can do wonders for a person’s future, they are in no way guaranteed and are difficult to achieve without the assistance of a trained attorney. At Brickfield & Donahue, or powerful Bergen County expungement lawyers understand the strategies necessary to maximize your chances of success and can provide the strong support you need in your pursuit of a new future.
Find out more about what our award-winning advocates can do for you by calling (201) 574-7919 today to set up your free case review.