If you live in New Jersey and have a criminal conviction that is public, you may be wondering if it can be removed if you still owe restitution. The legal process of expungement permits you to petition the court to clear your prior conviction if you are eligible. In this article, expungements will be explained, along with the process and typical reasons why expungements are denied. If you are considering seeking an expungement for a criminal conviction, then make sure that you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney to determine eligibility.
What Is an Expungement?
If you want to get a criminal conviction off your public criminal record, you have to go through a legal process called expungement. New Jersey law lets people petition to have a prior criminal conviction or criminal episode removed from their public criminal records. Make sure you are eligible for expungement before attempting to get one.
In New Jersey and many other states, there is a new law that allows several convictions to be removed through expungement after ten years have passed since the person's last conviction. This new law is called “Clean Slate.” It has amended many of the state's expungement laws, making it easier for people to get their convictions expunged. Major changes through Clean Slate include:
- Allowing individuals with multiple convictions the opportunity to get expungements
- Reclassifying drug convictions as disorderly persons offenses to make expungement easier
- Decreasing the time required to wait to seek an expungement to five.
- Allowing marijuana-related expungements to be expunged immediately
New Jersey has made some important changes to its expungement laws. If you want to know more about expungement, you should speak with a criminal defense lawyer. If the court agrees to your expungement petition, then it will remove your conviction from your public criminal record. However, state and federal government agencies can still access a private database that records all criminal offenses, even after expunged convictions.
What Are the Requirements for Expungement Eligibility in New Jersey?
Once you determine that you can seek an expungement for your prior conviction or criminal episode, then you must file an expungement petition to start your expungement. An expungement petition must include:
- Your date of birth
- Your date of arrest
- Any applicable New Jersey statutes
- Any case numbers
- Your conviction date
- The judge's sentence
To be successful in your expungement petition, you must include an affidavit stating that you are not currently facing criminal charges. You must also file your petition with the court where your most recent conviction took place, even if you have multiple convictions.
Once the court accepts your expungement petition, then you will be issued a court date for an expungement hearing. The prosecutor may object to your expungement, but if there is no objection, then you may not have to attend the court date. If your petition is granted, then you will receive an order signed by the judge that confirms your expungement.
It is your responsibility to take this signed order to government agencies that keep public records of convictions. Your convictions will remain until you submit your expungement order to the appropriate government agencies.
Are Expungements Available if Restitution is Still Owed?
Expungements are not available if restitution is still owed on the conviction you are seeking to remove. If you still owe restitution on your case, then it means that your case has not officially closed as the court will still have jurisdiction over you and your criminal case. If you violate a term of restitution payment, then the judge can still find you in violation of your terms of oversight, such as probation. Once you fully pay all of your owed restitution, then you may be eligible for expungement, as long as you don't have some other reason that makes you ineligible, such as having current criminal charges. In specific situations, money that is owed to the court can be converted into a civil judgment to allow for an expungement. This is allowed because this money would be owed to the court and not to the victim of your prior criminal case. To best understand what you can and can't do regarding your expungement petition and eligibility, make sure you seek the help of an experienced attorney.
How an Experienced Attorney Can Help
In New Jersey, it can be confusing to figure out how to clear your criminal record. Every state has its own laws about this, and each state has different rules about who is eligible and what the process is. It's important to have a professional look at your situation to find out what you are eligible for and what the best way to clear your record is.
If you want to get your criminal conviction expunged, then it is a good idea to have an experienced lawyer help you. Lawyers understand how to avoid common mistakes that many people make when they attempt to get an expungement on their own. You generally only get one opportunity to make an expungement request, so it is important to make sure everything is done correctly. If you have legal questions, then call us at the Lento Law firm today!
Why Hiring Lento Law Firm Is the Right Choice
If you are looking to expunge a prior conviction from your criminal record in New Jersey, then having an experienced expungement attorney on your side can help you avoid the mistakes that many make when applying to remove a conviction. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to learn why hiring us is the right choice to help you prepare and file your application for an expungement in New Jersey. You can also contact us online.