An expungement is a legal process that allows for the removal of records of past criminal offenses for adults or acts of delinquency among juveniles. Once the expungement is completed, these adverse records will not appear when you are subjected to a background screening, such as when applying for a job or apartment lease. Eligibility requirements do exist that are needed to qualify.
Juvenile Expungement (2C:52-4.1)
Records of juvenile delinquency are eligible for expungement five years after the individual has been discharged from detention, probation, or other related supervision. The individual must not have been convicted of any subsequent offenses during this five-year period, either as a juvenile or an adult. In addition, the individual must not have had adult criminal charges dismissed after completing alternative sentencing or diversionary programs.
Young Drug Offenders Expungement (2C:52-5)
New Jersey has some provisions that apply specifically to those under the age of 21 who are convicted of drug-related offenses. These are offenses associated with use or possession of controlled substances. After a one-year period has elapsed since the individual has satisfied all conditions, they may apply in the court where the conviction occurred. To be eligible, the individual must not have had any subsequent convictions or had charges dismissed after completing alternative sentencing or diversionary programs.
Those whose conviction involved selling or distributing drugs or possession charges with intent to sell are excluded. This applies except when the offense was for intent to sell or distribute marijuana when the amount of the drug was less than 25 grams. An exception also applies to hashish when the amount of the drug was less than 5 grams.
Indictable Offenses (2C:52-2)
The majority of indictable adult offenders are eligible for expungement of their criminal record after 10 years has passed since all the conditions of the case were satisfied. To qualify, the individual must not have had subsequent criminal convictions or two or more disorderly person offenses or petty disorderly person offenses. Those wishing to apply may do so in the court where the conviction occurred.
Some individuals may be eligible for expungement of charges when only five years have elapsed since all conditions of the conviction were satisfied. To qualify, the individual may not have had any subsequent convictions including any disorderly person or petty disorderly person offenses. The decision to allow for expungement under these circumstances is based on the court's discretion.
Those seeking expungement that is ineligible due to having two or more convictions for a disorderly person or petty disorderly person offenses may still qualify for expungement. This also is based on the court's discretion. The court may consider the severity of the offenses and other factors. Convictions associated with serious crimes such as arson, manslaughter, murder, and rape, are not eligible for expungement.
Petition for Expungement
There are several formal documents that must be completed for an expungement as follows:
- Form A: The Petition for Expungement that must be filed with the court where the conviction occurred.
- Form B: An order that requests a hearing. Upon receipt, you can expect the court to schedule a hearing typically within 60 days.
- Form C: The Expungement Order that must have the judge's signature.
- Form D: A cover (form) letter that is sent to the Superior Court Case Management Office. A filing fee payable to the New Jersey Treasurer is also required.
The court may require you to attend a formal hearing if an agent of law enforcement has an objection to the potential expungement. The judge may otherwise waive the hearing at their discretion and approve the expungement.
Importance of Legal Representation
Those seeking to have a criminal record expunged should consult with a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer. Your attorney will determine your potential eligibility for expungement, make the court requirement process more efficient, assist you with preparation for a hearing if applicable, and more.
New Jersey Attorney for Expungement of Past Conviction Records
Joseph D. Lento is a defense attorney with years of experience in representing clients in the New Jersey court system. Contact the office at (888) 535-3686 today for a complimentary initial consultation.