In New Jersey, if you have been an accessory to a crime — even if you did not actively participate — you may charged with and convicted of accomplice liability. This crime includes situations in which a defendant causes an innocent person to commit a crime, conspires with another to commit a crime, or is an accomplice. Being an accessory could apply to actions before, during, of even after an offense occurs, such as agreeing to hide stolen property or funds from authorities.
Having any kind of arrest and conviction of a crime on your record can be extremely damaging to your ability to live your life freely and openly even after you've served all your time and satisfied payment on any fines. Criminal records are publicly available, and some of the types of people that regularly search them include employers, school officials, landlords, and insurance companies.
Make no mistake: a crime on your record can add challenges and additional stress in your life — which is why it is important to know about the possibility of expungement, the process of clearing certain offenses from your criminal record. Expungement can not only give you a clean record for housing and job applications, but it can also restore your Second Amendment rights to own firearms and restore your eligibility for some professional licenses as well.
How Expungement Works
Fortunately, regardless of the circumstances of your conviction, you may be able to have a conviction for accomplice liability expunged in New Jersey. While in some states, records are physically destroyed when they are expunged, this is not the case in New Jersey. Instead, the state removes your record from public view for many circumstances, including most employment and housing background checks. You can also legally deny having had convictions in most instances. In practical terms, this means that on forms that ask whether you have had a criminal conviction, you would be able to check the “no” box without facing any legal repercussions.
In New Jersey, even expunged records can be used for other reasons within the criminal justice system, however, such as in the future determination of bail and sentencing. Moreover, if you apply for employment within the justice system generally, your criminal record, even if expunged, may be considered.
Eligibility for Expungement
In New Jersey, some offenses are not eligible for expungement, including:
- Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
While accomplice liability isn't on the list of crimes ineligible for expungement, courts have considered the related crime in determining eligibility. That is, if your conviction for accomplice liability is connected to a crime ineligible for expungement, this could affect your record's eligibility. This detail is one of the many reasons it is advisable to have an experienced expungement attorney by your side when filling out your petition.
Timeline for Expungement
The “Clean Slate” law passed in 2021 has changed many aspects of expungement law in New Jersey. Some of the major changes include:
- You can petition the court to expunge an entire criminal record once 10 years have passed since the end of the sentence of the last conviction, allowing you to expunge multiple convictions.
- You can seek expungement of most arrests and offenses after five years have passed from the end of your sentence.
Still, however, a person convicted of more than one indictable offense (generally those that are classified in degrees) cannot have their crimes expunged.
Filing a petition for expungement when you are not eligible to do so will lead to denial, so it is crucial that you understand all of the rules regarding eligibility before requesting expungement.
The Expungement Process
New Jersey has streamlined the process for applying for record expungement by placing materials online, though it can still be a complex process depending on the types of crimes you have on your record, time frames, etc. Also, through the online system, much of the information is automatically populated, but that doesn't mean it's always correct. You must be absolutely sure you are submitting all of the correct information regarding your record so there aren't any surprises headed your way regarding your request.
To file a petition for expungement of accomplice liability, you will need to provide basic information regarding yourself and your court cases, including your date of arrest, statute numbers connected to the crime(s), date of conviction, and final sentence. You must also verify that you have no cases pending against you. Note that the “Clean Slate” law also eliminated the previous $75 filing fee.
The petition must be submitted to the court that handled your most recent conviction. The rest of the process generally follows these steps:
- Court hearing: You may or may not have to attend depending on the details of your requested expungement.
- Receipt of expungement order: If the court approves your petition, you will receive an expungement order signed by the judge.
- Service of expungement order: You must serve the order on the proper government agencies in order for your record to be expunged.
Note that just because you receive an expungement order, this doesn't mean that your past is erased from the Internet or newspaper searches. You may choose to seek additional legal advice regarding the potential removal of these types of public mentions of a troubled time in your life.
If you are looking to expunge an accomplice liability conviction from your record, you should have an experienced expungement attorney guiding you through the process to ensure it's done right the first time. Call attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 for information on how you can take the next steps toward having a clean criminal record.