A criminal record has impactful and lasting consequences. Not long after creating a criminal record, offenders find out (the hard way) just how an even seemingly minor criminal conviction can affect their life. Offenders re-enter society with severely limited possibilities, stripped rights, and a haunting social stigma. All it takes is a google search for employers, higher education institutions, housing agencies, and anyone with internet access to discover a person's criminal record. The unfortunate reality is that any involvement with law enforcement can and will follow you forever. The good news is that New Jersey has established a method for offenders to truly put the past behind them.
If you've been convicted of a crime in Mercer County, you can clear your criminal record by being granted an expungement. An expungement is a court-ordered process that is intended to completely eradicate a criminal charge or conviction from an individual's rap sheet. The state imposes its own distinct laws regarding the expungement process. Although this process can seem tedious and time-consuming, it is always worth it to clear your criminal record of infractions. If you qualify for an expungement, it can drastically improve the quality of your life and increase your chances of professional success in the long run.
Mercer County's Expungement Process
The expungement process basically entails preparing an expungement petition and proving your eligibility. Here's an overview of the process.
Request your state police criminal history record
To obtain your criminal history record from the New Jersey State Police you will need to be fingerprinted. Contact a fingerprinting company, IDEMIA USA, to schedule an appointment for fingerprinting.
Complete the paperwork
You'll need to complete and submit three forms: (a) the petition for expungement, (b) order for hearing, and (c) the expungement order.
Form A - petition for expungement
If your arrest transpired in Mercer County, you must file a petition in the Mercer County Superior Court.
Form B - Order for hearing
The order for hearing will be used by the judge to schedule a hearing. A Mercer County Superior Court judge will be assigned to your case and will schedule a hearing between 35 and 60 days after he or she receives your petition.
Form C - Expungement order
The expungement order is the official document that will be signed by the judge if your petition for expungement (Form A) is granted.
Attend the Hearing
Punctually arrive at the court on your assigned hearing date. It will be up to the judge to decide whether to grant or deny your expungement. If there are no opposing comments from a law enforcement officer, the judge will, in most cases, grant your expungement.
Who is eligible for an expungement in Mercer County?
There are restrictive eligibility expungement requirements in New Jersey. Not all criminal records are qualifiable for expungement. Convictions for serious crimes like sexual assault, murder, kidnapping, and robbing, for example, cannot be expunged. Ultimately, your eligibility will be dependent on a number of factors, including your criminal record and the types of crimes you wish to expunge.
New Jersey law allows the expungement of some criminal convictions only after the successful completion of a sentence and waiting for an allotted period of time. Depending on your unique situation, you may be eligible for expungement in Mercer County under the following circumstances:
- You were arrested but acquitted (six-month waiting period)
- You were arrested and charged, but the charges against you were dismissed (six-month waiting period)
- You were convicted of a disorderly persons offense (five-year waiting period)
- You were convicted of an indictable offense (six-year waiting period)
- You were convicted of a municipal ordinance violation (two-year waiting period)
- You were convicted of a minor drug offense (one-year waiting period)
Contact the Lento Law Firm Today
Mercer County's court system can be confusing. The best thing you can do to increase your chances of being granted an expungement is to retain an attorney. Joseph D. Lento of the law firm is an experienced Mercer County expungement attorney who will determine your eligibility for expungement, gather all your paperwork, get you a court date, and ensure that the process goes as swiftly as possible.
Before you attempt to start the process, scheduling a consultation with Mr. Lento is advisable. Undergoing the process yourself can prolong the process and ruin your chances of success. You have everything to gain by contacting our firm. Don't hesitate to call us today at 888-535-3686, or contact us online.