Expungement of Criminal Records
In addition to the penalties imposed for a criminal conviction, such as imprisonment or hefty fines, you may face a stigma for having a criminal record. It can become more difficult to find a job or rent an apartment. Sometimes, your life is permanently altered because of a criminal conviction. Expungement is one way to address this problem in New Jersey. Not everyone is eligible for expungement, however. If you are interested in expunging your criminal record, a New Jersey expungement lawyer at the Grimes Law Firm can advise you on whether this may be an option and guide you through the process.
If you have been arrested and not convicted, you are eligible immediately for expungement. However, certain drug convictions for people under age 21 have a waiting period of one year before the offender becomes eligible for expungement. If you have no more than three disorderly persons offenses and then have an indictable felony conviction, the waiting period to expunge the indictable felony conviction is six years, although it can be five years for early pathway expungement.What is Expungement?
Expungement will not destroy or erase your criminal records, but it does involve the extraction and isolation of criminal records for the purpose of making them not available to the public. Records that can be expunged include warrants, complaints, rap sheets, photographs, fingerprints, judicial docket records, and processing records. Agencies that possess your records, such as the New Jersey State Police, the FBI, other police departments, or the courts, must isolate the expunged records.
Under N.J.S.A. 2C:52-27, when an order of expungement is granted, an arrest, conviction, or the proceedings related to them are deemed not to have happened. That means that you can answer questions in a job interview or another interview as if those events had not occurred, with certain exceptions that an expungement attorney in New Jersey can explain.
The benefit of expunging your records is that landlords, employers, creditors, and acquaintances who run a background check on you will not be able to access the expunged records. Instead, they will receive a message of no records in response to a search.Petition for Expungement
There are certain statements that should accompany a petition for expungement under 2C:52-8. One such statement is a verification or an affidavit that there are no criminal charges, petty disorderly persons charges, or disorderly persons charges pending against the petitioner when the petition is being filed. When a petition for expungement seeks expungement of a criminal conviction, it also needs to include a verification or affidavit that the petitioner has never been granted sealing, expungement, or another type of relief related to a criminal conviction by a court in New Jersey or another state or by any federal court. When someone has had a dismissal of a criminal charge because he or she has been accepted into a supervisory treatment or other diversion program, a statement with a verification or affidavit putting forth the nature of the original charge, the court of disposition, and the date of disposition should accompany the petition for expungement as well. Our New Jersey expungement attorney can help you make sure that you provide all of the necessary documents.The Expungement Process
The process of obtaining expungement in New Jersey takes about six months to complete. The first step is to get a copy of your criminal records. This can include your judgment of conviction when your charges are at the felony level. You will need your disposition if you were charged at the municipal level. After these records are obtained, you will need to serve an expungement petition. Once you get the filed petition back from the court, you will need to serve a copy on the government agencies. The court sets a hearing date, and at the hearing, a judge will decide whether to grant expungement.
Matters are made more complicated if the prosecutor objects to expungement. If the judge orders expungement, you will need to serve the expungement order on all of the appropriate government agencies. They will need to take steps to comply with the order and remove your records. It can take the New Jersey police up to 120 days to actually remove the expunged criminal records, and they should send a confirmation.Contact an Experienced Expungement Lawyer in New Jersey
If you are interested in petitioning for expungement, you should hire a skillful criminal defense attorney. The process for obtaining expungement can be complicated. At the Grimes Law Firm, we represent people with criminal records in Somerville, Neshanic Station, and elsewhere in Somerset County, as well as throughout the tri-state area. Call us at (908) 371-1066 or contact us via our online form to set up an appointment.