If you live in New Jersey and have been convicted of disturbing the peace, then you likely have questions about the potential of getting rid of that conviction from your criminal record. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be able to make use of a legal process called expungement to get rid of your prior conviction. In this article, we'll define what expungements are, discuss which disturbing the peace crimes are eligible for expungement, and describe how the expungement process works in New Jersey.
What is an Expungement?
An expungement is a legal process designed to erase one or more criminal convictions from someone's public criminal record. While some states allow for multiple expungements, New Jersey law allows you to expunge one prior conviction or episode for an indictable offense as long as you meet several eligibility requirements. In February 2021, New Jersey's expungement laws changed in significant ways. As an example, the enactment of the “Clean Slate” legislation was a major change in expungement laws in New Jersey.
Under Clean Slate, an individual with multiple convictions can expunge their entire criminal record once ten years have passed since their most recent conviction. Expungement laws in New Jersey have also changed in 2021 in the following ways:
- You can seek expungement even if you have more than one conviction
- Drug offense convictions are now directed to be considered disorderly person's offenses during expungements
- Certain marijuana and hashish convictions are immediately expungable
- You may seek expungement once five years have passed since the end of an eligible conviction
This is a partial list of New Jersey expungement law changes in 2021. It is important to know that a successful expungement application will result in the deletion of criminal records only on governmentally maintained public databases. Your criminal history will always be viewable on a private database that can be accessed by government and/or police authorities even if you are successful in your expungement application.
Which Disturbing the Peace Crimes Can Be Expunged?
Under New Jersey law, the crime of disturbing the peace is found within the disorderly conduct statute. Most disturbing the peace crimes can be expunged under New Jersey law as they are disorderly person's offenses. As long as your conviction for disturbing the peace is minor and not associated with a non-expungable crime such as arson, then you are likely eligible to apply for an expungement as long as you meet the other eligibility requirements. Disturbing the peace crimes that are eligible for expungement include convictions under the New Jersey Revised Statutes starting at Section 2C:33
To ensure that you are eligible for expungement, obtain an official copy of your criminal record issued by the state so you can confirm which disturbing the peace crime you were convicted of. Once you do this, make sure to get in touch with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Expungement Process in New Jersey
Once you have confirmed your eligibility for expungement, then your next step will be to fill out your expungement application. In it, you must include your:
- Arrest date;
- Correct statutes relating to your arrests or convictions;
- Correct case numbers;
- Conviction or disposition date; and
- The judge's final disposition and sentence.
You must also include an affidavit with your expungement application that states that you are not currently facing any other potential or actual criminal charges. You must file your expungement application with the court of your most recent conviction.
Once you properly file your expungement application, the court will then set a hearing date. It is possible that you won't have to attend this hearing. If the prosecutor objects to your expungement, then expect to have to appear to respond to the objections. If the prosecutor does not have any objections to your expungement, then you stand a good chance of not being required to appear. If you are successful in your expungement application, then the court will mail you an order stating that your expungement application is granted. Your expungement order will clear your public criminal record once you serve this order on the appropriate state agencies. Your criminal record will not be cleared until you personally serve this order.
What Are the Benefits of Getting an Expungement?
Being awarded an expungement can come with several benefits. Some of the most popular and powerful benefits include:
- Regaining constitutional rights such as the right to own a weapon
- Being able to answer ‘no' on a job or housing application regarding prior convictions
- Being eligible to apply for federal funding or public assistance that you cannot get with certain convictions
- Obtain certain professional licenses from the state that are not available to people with certain convictions
- Online records such as social media posts, news articles, and other public information will be unaffected by the granting of an expungement as they are not maintained by the government.
What Are Some Reasons Why an Expungement Will Be Denied?
You can be denied expungement for several reasons. Eligibility is critical; if you are attempting to expunge a conviction that cannot be expunged, then expect the court to simply deny your application. The following convictions cannot be expunged in New Jersey:
There are several other convictions that are not eligible for expungement in New Jersey. If you file an incomplete expungement application or file one with inaccuracies, you will likely face an objection from the prosecutor or denial from the judge, or both. If you have questions regarding your potential expungement, then call us at the Lento Law Firm so we can help.
Why Hiring the Lento Law Firm is the Right Choice
If you are looking to expunge a prior disturbing the peace conviction in New Jersey, then having an experienced expungement attorney on your side can help prevent you from making the mistakes that many make when applying for an expungement. Call attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to learn why hiring us is the right choice to help you prepare and file your application for an expungement. You can also contact us online.