New Jersey statute defines expungement of a criminal offense as being an “extraction and isolation of all records on file.” This applies to any information located in the courts, agencies of law enforcement or criminal justice, facilities for detention or corrections, and others. This includes information regarding arrests, trials, warrants, photographs, etc.
There were more than 11,000 applications received for expungement in New Jersey in 2017. In Cape May County, indictable criminal offenses involving adults are handled by the Criminal Division of the Superior Court. Indictable offenses are the most serious charges that are graded from the first to the fourth degree. Lower level offenses, which include disorderly person offenses and motor vehicle offenses, may be heard at the Municipal Court.
The governor and the state legislature have been making significant modifications to the state's expungement laws since 2017. Governor Phil Murphy just recently announced that he is seeking to implement a statewide system of “automated clean slate expungement.” This will expunge offenses after 10 years have passed if the offender has had no subsequent offenses.
Expungement of Indictable Offenses (2C:52-2)
The majority of indictable offenses may be expunged when 10 years have passed with no subsequent indictable offenses or no more than two disorderly person offenses. Certain indictable offenses are eligible for expungement after five years if the individual has had zero subsequent convictions. Eligibility for expungement requires that all fines, terms of probation, and other related conditions have been satisfied.
Expungement Disorderly Person Offense (2C:52-3)
Disorderly person and petty disorderly person offenses could loosely be equated to misdemeanor offenses in other jurisdictions. They are eligible for expungement in five years. The individual must not have had any subsequent indictable offenses and a maximum of three disorderly person or petty disorderly person offenses.
Expungement of an Ordinance Violation (2C:52-4)
Violations of local ordinances are relatively minor offenses that generally do not result in any jail time. Eligibility for expungement occurs in two years. The requirements are that the individual had not has any subsequent indictable offenses and a maximum of two disorderly person or petty disorderly person offenses.
Provisions for Certain Drug Offenses
Higher-level drug trafficking offenses are generally ineligible for expungement. Some of the current provisions related to drug offenses that are changing include:
- The Drug Court program allows those who complete the requirements to qualify for immediate expungement in many cases
- The majority of third and fourth-degree drug offenses are now eligible for expungement at the discretion of the court
- The state is currently in the process of implementing an “expedited expungement process for certain minor marijuana, hashish, and paraphernalia convictions.”
Juvenile Offense Expungement
Acts of juvenile delinquency are eligible for expungement after five years. The individual must not have had any subsequent indictable offenses. Another requirement is that the individual has not had charges disposed of or expunged by completing a drug court or similar diversionary program.
Many of the most serious criminal offenses are not eligible for expungement. Examples include homicide, arson, terrorist acts, sexual assault, and several others. This also applies to juvenile acts of delinquency. An experienced attorney can be of assistance with determining eligibility for expungement.
Lawyer for Expungement of Criminal Record in New Jersey
Those who have had a past criminal conviction may be able to obtain an expungement. Attorney Joseph D. Lento is extremely familiar with this realm of legal practice. You are encouraged to contact the office today for a consultation at (888) 535-3686.