McLaughlin & Nardi's attorneys are experienced in handling the expungement of New Jersey criminal records.
What is an Expungement?
Under the law in New Jersey, expungement of criminal records is a process to clear criminal records. The primary objective is to give a "fresh start" to someone who made a mistake in the past, but turned their life around and become a productive citizen.
With some exceptions, this allows you to truthfully answer that you were not convicted or arrested. An expungement "isolates" records, so that they do not appear in record checks.
Why Get an Expungment?
Expungements are New Jersey's "fresh start." They remove obstacles which arrests or convictions can place on many jobs. Under most circumstances, it allows you to legally say that the arrest or conviction never occurred.
Many employers routinely do background investigations of criminal history, and arrests and convictions can keep you from getting the job. Indeed, many employers do criminal investigation even of their current employees. Many professional licenses or schools will be closed to you if you have an arrest or conviction. An expungement will help if you want to volunteer for sports or community organizations, or adopt a child. (There are exceptions - for instance, the convictions must still be disclosed in applications for positions with the judiciary or law enforcement, or to become a licensed attorney; the conviction will not be a bar, but it must be disclosed in these circumstances.) A criminal record can also hurt your chances to join the military, become accepted to college, obtain a firearm license, hold public office or employment, and vote.
Finally, it lifts the weight of the conviction off the shoulders of good, productive citizens.
Which New Jersey Convictions Can be Expunged, and When?
Most crimes in New Jersey can be expunged. The process can take between 60 and 120 days after starting.
Major Convictions. Convictions for major criminal offenses (known as "crimes" or "felonies"), which are not precluded by law, can be expunged ten years after the later of the conviction, final payment of fines, completion of probation or parole, or release from prison. However, a person must have had a clean record during that ten year period, which means no convictions of any other crimes, and no more than two convictions of disorderly persons offenses or petty disorderly persons offenses (also known as misdemeanors or petty misdemeanors). There are some very limited circumstances where this time period may be shortened to less than ten years.
Minor Convictions. Disorderly persons offenses (misdemeanors) or petty disorderly persons offenses can be expunged five years after the later of the conviction, final payment of fines, completion of probation or parole, or release from prison, provided no other crimes or no more than three disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offenses have been committed. Also, convictions for drunk driving are not criminal, they are traffic offenses so they cannot be expunged.
Drug Offenses. Possessing drugs for personal use generally can be expunged. However, selling or distributing drugs, or possessing them with the intent to sell them, cannot unless the amounts involved are small, such as, if the drugs were: 25 grams or less of Marijuana; 5 grams or less of hashish; or any prohibited drug if the conviction was of the third or fourth degree, and the court finds that expungement is in the public interest.
Ordinances. Violations of any local or other governmental ordinance can be expunged after two years, provided there were no other conviction of crimes, and no more than two convictions for disorderly persons offenses (misdemeanors) or petty disorderly persons offenses.
Arrests Not Resulting in Conviction. Arrests not resulting in conviction can be expunged at any time, provided they did not result in a finding of guilt. It is important to bear in mind that a finding of guilt does not require a trial, any guilty plea or plea bargain includes a finding of guilt. The only exception is that arrests resulting in not guilty findings by reason of insanity or lack of mental capacity.
Juvenile Delinquency. Generally juvenile records can be expunged after five years provided the crimes would not be prohibited if they were committed by an adult. Also, five years must have passed without conviction of a crime or disorderly persons offense. Possession of drugs for personal use may be expunged after one year.
Out of State Residents. Out of state residents can obtain New Jersey expungments for convictions here. In most cases, there will be no need to come to New Jersey.
What Cannot be Expunged?
In general, all crimes may be expunged if they are not excluded by law.
Generally, only certain specified major crimes are excluded. Most homicides, sexual crimes and human trafficking cannot be expunged. Likewise, terrorism and crimes related to weapons of mass destruction cannot be expunged. Likewise, most perjury and corruption crimes are ineligible for expungement; as are kidnapping, arson and robbery conviction for crimes committed by state or local public employees or officeholders which involved or "touched" their employment or office.
Convictions for selling drugs or possessing them with the intent to sell them will also bar expungement, except if the drugs in question were: 25 grams or less of Marijuana; 5 grams or less of hashish; or any prohibited drug if the conviction was of the third or fourth degree, and the court finds that it is in the public interest, weighing the nature of the offense, the person's conduct since conviction, and her character.
Even if the offense is not listed as excluded, a judge can refuse to expunge it if subsequent offenses, even if few and minor, show a continuation of the criminal behavior.
Experienced Expungement Attorneys
McLaughlin & Nardi's New Jersey attorneys assist people obtain expungements throughout the state of New Jersey. To obtain more information, please call (973) 890-0004 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.