There is an option, however, to someone who wants the opportunity to clear their record and prevent an arrest or conviction from following them around for the rest of their lives. It is known as expungement.
What is an Expungement?
An expungement is the result of a court process in which a court order is signed by a judge deeming the offense to have never happened. An expungement can only be granted by a judge and is not the same thing as a pardon. A pardon doesn't eliminate the crime from having happened, but rather it is a forgiveness for it.
Expungement does not destroy the records of the arrest or conviction, but instead the expunged records are sealed. There is a special location for expunged records and they are not accessible during an ordinary records search. The reason the records are not destroyed is because the crime might disqualify an individual from applying for a position in law enforcement, corrections or the judicial branch of New Jersey government.
While it is not necessary to expunge an arrest and conviction from one's record, if it is possible to do so, it is a wise decision for the future to have such an occurrence in one's past eliminated from his or her record.
Eligibility for Expungement in New Jersey
Whether or not a person is eligible to have an expungement depends on many factors. Expungement status includes consideration of the following:
- Does the person want to expunge an arrest alone or an arrest and conviction?
- In the event of a conviction, what was the conviction for? A crime of perjury, kidnapping, sexual assault, arson, robbery or murder cannot be expunged.
- Does the person have prior convictions and how many have there been?
- What was the sentence for the conviction, if any?
- Did the individual pay the relevant fines? When were they paid?
- Has there been a prior expungement for another offense?
- Does the person have charges against him or her that are still open?
Time Frame for Requesting an Expungement in New Jersey
There are waiting times for requesting and receiving an expungement. The list goes as follows:
- Felony—the waiting time for a felony (indictable criminal offense) in New Jersey is usually five years and is referred to as an “early pathway”. To qualify, the person must show that the expungement will be in the public interest if granted.
- Misdemeanor (disorderly persons offense)—the waiting time is five years.
- Petty disorderly persons offense—the waiting time is five years.
- Juvenile adjudication—it is five years or the equivalent period if the crime was committed by an adult, whichever is less.
- Municipal ordinance violation—the waiting time is two years.
- Young drug offender—applies if the person was under 21-years-old when the violation was committed and the waiting time is one year.
- Completion of a diversion program (pretrial intervention)—six months.
- Not guilty due to lack of mental capacity or insanity—these cannot be expunged.
- Domestic violence—a final restraining order due to domestic violence cannot be expunged because a restraining order is a civil order and not a criminal conviction.
- Dismissal of a charge—there is no waiting time.
Contact an Experienced New Jersey Attorney about Expungement
Have you or a loved one ever been arrested or convicted of a crime that fits into the above-listed criteria for an expungement? If so, it's important that you contact an attorney to assist you in clearing your record once and for all. The law offices of Villani & DeLuca in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey can help you have your record expunged so the arrest or conviction doesn't negatively affect the rest of your life. Even if you were acquitted or the charges were dismissed, there is still a record of arrest whether you were arrested as part of a misunderstanding or not. These records can hinder you in finding a job, renting an apartment, acquiring credit or a loan and countless other instances.
If you would like to seek an expungement in New Jersey of records entered in a Monmouth County or Ocean County court, such as in the towns of Belmar, Asbury Park, Brick or anywhere else, the professional and experienced lawyers of Villani & DeLuca can help you. Call today to set up an appointment to discuss your case and we will be glad to discuss your options for an expungement.