Those with a past criminal conviction are likely to encounter difficulties when subjected to a background check. This often occurs when seeking employment, leasing an apartment, or applying for state occupational licensing. New Jersey law allows the majority of criminal offenses to be expunged except for very serious crimes such as homicide, kidnapping, sexual assault, perjury, and others.
Expungement is a process that is completed through the court that allows for the “extraction” of records about criminal offenses. The amount of time that must elapse without having a subsequent offense varies based on the level of the offense. New Jersey lawmakers have recognized the long-term problems that those with a criminal record struggle with and have made the process simpler and more efficient.
Importance of Legal Representation
The New Jersey Court's Expungement Packet for 2019 strongly encourages those seeking an expungement to retain an attorney. This is important because the process is often confusing for an individual that is unfamiliar with it. The requirements to qualify for expungement also vary based on whether the crime was an indictable offense, disorderly person offense, or violation of a municipal ordinance.
Indictable Offense Expungement (2C:52-2)
Indictable offenses are those ranging from the first to the fourth degree. You may be eligible for expungement when 10 years have passed and all fines and other penalties have been satisfied. It also requires that you have had no subsequent indictable offenses and no more than two disorderly person or petty disorderly person offenses.
The court may consider allowing an expungement when all of the fines have not been paid. This applies to those that have “substantially complied with any payment plan ordered” or when “compelling circumstances” exist that have prevented the offender from paying the remaining amount. The court may also consider expungement when five years have passed if the individual has had no criminal convictions of any kind. The court may use their discretion and consider the character of the applicant and the type of offense involved.
Disorderly Person Offense Expungement (2C:52-3)
Disorderly person and petty disorderly person offenses are significantly less serious than indictable offenses. These offenses may be expunged after five years. This applies as long as there have been no subsequent indictable offenses and no more than three disorderly person or petty disorderly person offenses.
Expungement of an Ordinance Violation (2C:52-4)
Violations of municipal ordinances are minor offenses that rarely result in any jail time. These offenses may be expunged after two years have passed. This applies as long as there have been no subsequent indictable offenses and no more than two disorderly person or petty disorderly person offenses.
Provisions for Certain Drug Offenses
Convictions for selling, distributing, or possessing with intent to sell controlled substances are not generally eligible for expungement. Exceptions apply to:
- Offenses involving 25 grams or less of marijuana
- Offenses involving five grams or less of hashish
- Some third and fourth-degree drug offenses may be considered by the court for expungement at their discretion.
Experienced Legal Representation for Expunging a Criminal Record
Attorney Joseph D. Lento has spent many years assisting clients in New Jersey who are looking to expunge their criminal record. You are encouraged to contact the office today at (888) 535-3686 for a complimentary initial consultation.