If you live in New Jersey and have been convicted of drug cultivation or manufacturing, then you may be wondering if and how you can get rid of that conviction from your criminal record. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be able to use the legal process of expungement to get rid of your prior conviction. This article will define expungements, discuss which drug cultivation or manufacturing crimes are eligible for expungement, and describe how the expungement process in New Jersey.
What is an Expungement?
An expungement is a legal method and procedure to get rid of a criminal conviction from someone's public criminal record. New Jersey law allows you to expunge one prior conviction or episode for an indictable offense. You will need to meet several eligibility requirements if you plan on being successful in your expungement application. In February 2021, New Jersey's state government put major changes to expungement laws and processes into effect. The enactment of the “Clean Slate” legislation was a major step forward in expungement law in New Jersey.
Under Clean Slate, someone can expunge their entire criminal record once they have been crime-free for at least ten years. Other major changes to expungement laws in New Jersey in 2021 include:
- You now have the option to ask for an expungement even if you have more than one conviction.
- If you have a conviction for a drug offense, judges are to treat this conviction as a disorderly person's conviction for expungement purposes.
- You are no longer required to wait to seek expungement for certain marijuana and hashish convictions
- You can now pursue an expungement after five years have passed from the end of your sentence instead of the prior requirement of six years.
These are just some of the several other changes made to the New Jersey expungement laws in 2021. You must always remember that if you are granted an expungement, then only the governmentally maintained public record relating to your conviction(s) will be deleted. Your criminal record will always be viewable on a private database that can be accessed by government and/or law enforcement authorities even if you are successful in your expungement application.
Which Drug Cultivation and Manufacturing Crimes Can Be Expunged?
Certain drug crimes can be expunged under New Jersey law. As long as your drug crime conviction is minor and not associated with a non-expungable crime such as robbery, then you are likely eligible to apply for an expungement if you meet the other requirements. Drug crimes that are eligible for expungement include convictions under the New Jersey Revised Statutes starting at Section 2C:52-1
- Youthful drug offenses
- Marijuana and hashish offenses
- Manufacturing drug offenses that are considered minor offenses
To ensure eligibility, make sure to get an official copy of your criminal record issued by the state so you can be sure of specifically which drug crime you were convicted of and get in touch with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Expungement Process in New Jersey
Once you are certain that you are eligible to apply for expungement, you will then be tasked with preparing your application for expungement. In it, you must include your:
- Date of birth;
- Date of arrest;
- Specific state statutes relating to your arrests or convictions;
- Any case numbers;
- Date of your conviction or disposition; and
- The court's final disposition and sentence.
Along with your expungement application, you are required to include an affidavit that says you are not facing any other criminal charges or matters. The proper place to file your application is the court of your latest conviction.
The court will set a hearing date for your expungement once it receives your application. You may or may not be required to attend your expungement hearing. Your attendance is generally dependent on if the prosecutor objects to your expungement. If the prosecutor objects to your expungement, you will then have to attend your expungement hearing to respond in person. If the prosecutor does not object to your expungement, then you may not have to attend your expungement hearing. If you are successful in getting an expungement granted, then you will receive a court order in the mail awarding you your expungement. Your expungement will not take effect until you take this order to the appropriate state agencies so they can clear your public criminal record.
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 the right to own a gun
- Being able to say that you don't have any convictions on a job or housing application
- Being able to access federal funding or public assistance not available to those with convictions
- Pursue professional career opportunities that are unavailable to people with convictions
It is important to know that public records such as social media or news outlets will be unaffected by the granting of an expungement.
What Are Some Reasons Why an Expungement Will Be Denied?
A judge can deny your expungement application for many reasons. If you are attempting to expunge a non-eligible conviction, for example, then the court will deny your application. You cannot expunge the following convictions in the state of New Jersey:
- Sexual assault/Rape
This is a partial list of convictions that are not eligible for expungement. Other reasons why an expungement will be denied include filing an incomplete or inaccurate application. If you have questions regarding your eligibility for an 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 conviction for drug cultivation or manufacturing in New Jersey, then having an experienced expungement attorney on your side can help you avoid 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 of a drug conviction. You can also contact us online.