Under New Jersey state law, an expungement of your criminal record is permitted. An expungement does not destroy the records. An expungement isolates the records by extracting them from records of the Court, the police, the probation, and the jail/prison records. The records that are expunged (isolated) include the complaints, warrants, arrests reports, commitments, criminal history records, fingerprints, and your 'rap sheet'.
Contrary to a popular misconception or belief, your record is not automatically 'cleared' or expunged with the passage of time. Nor is your record expunged or cleared if you were found "not guilty". Your record is not expunged or "cleared" unless a Court grants your expungement petition.
An experienced criminal defense lawyer like those at Bailey & Orozco is familiar with the process of properly filing an expungement petition. This type of representation can help to ensure that the petition is properly filed and granted by the Court. An expungement petition must conform to certain strict requirements in the New Jersey statute. Failure to meet all of the requirements will result in the denial of the petition, which will require the petition to be corrected and re-filed. A defense lawyer who is familiar with the procedure of the County where your petition is being filed can answer your questions as to how long the process will take and whether the Court is likely to grant your petition.
The New Jersey statute imposes application guidelines and waiting periods for various types of arrests and convictions. The statute lists the type of criminal offenses that cannot be expunged; and also imposes "waiting periods" for when you can apply for an expungement. These "waiting periods" are calculated from the completion of the sentence imposed by the Court. While certain types of criminal convictions and ordinance convictions can be expunged, your motor vehicle record cannot be expunged.
As stated above, it is important to note that an expungement does not destroy these records; it extracts and isolates the records. Under most circumstances, once an expungement has been granted these records cannot be disclosed. A person who has been granted an expungement can respond that they have no conviction when asked a question about having a criminal record. Exceptions to this rule include a person seeking a second expungement; a person seeking a conditional discharge; and, a person seeking employment in law enforcement.
What to bring to a consultation with an expungement lawyer:
- A copy of all papers pertaining to your criminal record, such as police reports, arrest reports, and, criminal complaints. This includes all charges, wherever and whenever you were charged, not just the most recent charge;
- A copy of all Court papers setting out how your criminal charge was disposed of by the Court, such as a Judgment of Conviction (JOC), the pre-sentence report, or a discharge summary;
- A copy of any receipt for fines that were paid pertaining to the offenses you want expunged; and,
- A copy of any report pertaining to the completion of any probationary, community service or diversionary treatment program.