If you, or someone you love, were convicted of burglary in New Jersey, you may be wondering if there is a way to have your criminal record erased. Expungement is the process of removing all the records – from public to police – that relate to your conviction. It essentially deletes that part of your life from the criminal justice system, giving you back much of your freedom and peace of mind. But, according to New Jersey law, only certain convictions are eligible for expungement. A skilled attorney will handle your request diligently and efficiently, ensuring you get the best results possible.
What is Expungement?
Like we mentioned above, expungement is the process of removing every record of your conviction – from arrest to sentencing, and even through the detention process – from the criminal and juvenile justice system. The court system will consider the entire ordeal erased as if it never happened. The only times when your expunged record can potentially be accessed is when the court is setting your bail for a subsequent crime; determining your eligibility for supervisory treatment or diversion programs; authorizing a pretrial release; preparing a pre-sentence report; or determining your sentence for a subsequent offense.
Who is Eligible for Expungement?
Under New Jersey law, there are three pathways for expungement. For a traditional expungement, a person is eligible for expungement if:
- The person was convicted of a crime in New Jersey, and
- The person does not have any other convictions for another crime in New Jersey or any other state. Or
- The person was convicted of one crime and no more than three disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offenses in New Jersey, and
- Doesn't have any subsequent convictions for another crime or any subsequent convictions for another disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons, whether in New Jersey or any other state. Or
- The person was convicted of multiple crimes or a combination of one or more crimes and one or more disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offenses in New Jersey, all of which were listed in a single judgment of conviction, and
- Does not otherwise have any subsequent convictions for another crime or offense in addition to those convictions included in the expungement application, whether in New Jersey or another state. Or
- The person was convicted of multiple crimes or a combination of one or more crimes and one or more disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offenses in New Jersey, which were codependent or closely related in circumstances and were committed as part of a sequence of events that took place within a short period of time, regardless of the date of conviction or sentencing for each crime or offense,
- And the person doesn't have any subsequent conviction for another crime or offense in addition to those convictions included in the expungement application, whether they happened in New Jersey or any other state.
You may have an early pathway to expungement in New Jersey after less than five years if:
- You substantially complied with a court payment plan or had compelling circumstances; or
- It's been at least for years since your conviction, you've had no further convictions, and you have compelling circumstances.
The final expungement pathway in New Jersey arises from the state's new Clean Slate law. In some cases, you may be eligible to expunge your entire criminal record expunged ten years after completing your sentence and paying all fines. While the Clean Slate expungement pathway takes longer, the law's provisions may apply even if you had a crime expunged earlier or had multiple indictable offenses.
Overall, expungement waiting periods in New Jersey range from three to ten years, depending on whether the conviction was a disorderly persons offense or an indictable offense, and whether you use the traditional, early, or clean slate pathway to expungement. For arrests that didn't lead to convictions, the court system can expunge the record immediately with no waiting period.
Who is not Eligible for Expungement in New Jersey?
Unfortunately, individuals who have been convicted of certain crimes in New Jersey are not eligible to have their records expunged. Some of these crimes include:
Is a Burglary Conviction Expungable?
The short answer: yes. In New Jersey, a burglary occurs when an individual enters another person's structure without permission with the intent to commit a theft or another crime while on the property. Now, robbery in New Jersey is not expungable because it is considered a violent crime, but a court will expunge burglary because it is usually non-violent in nature.
How to prepare for your expungement petitions:
- Get copies of your arrest record and criminal record – make sure these records are complete. You should request official copies to ensure that the record is complete. Not having a complete record may allow the government to reject your petition.
- Draft your expungement documents. You will need to file several documents, including the Expungement Petition, Proposed Order for Hearing, Expungement Order, Public Interest Certification, Modified Payment of Fine Certification, and Proof of Notice.
- Sign and file your expungement documents in front of a notary public (this step is not necessary when an attorney is handling your expungement).
- Make three copies of all application documents:
- A cover letter explaining the purpose of your application and all the documents included,
- The original documents listed in (2) and two copies of each,
- The filing fee, and
- Two large self-addressed envelopes with postage.
How an Experienced Attorney Can Help
The expungement process can be pretty confusing, which is why hiring an experienced New Jersey expungement attorney to help is so important. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has years of experience aiding individuals in getting their records expunged. He will gather, draft, and file all necessary documents, navigate the court proceedings, and appear in court on your behalf if needed. If you require an early pathway expungement, have three convictions or more on your record, or have out-of-state convictions, you're going to need an attorney to help navigate these complexities. Call 888.535.3686 today to schedule a consultation. You don't have to go through this alone. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm can help.