Expunging Your New Jersey Criminal Record
Like many other states in recent years, New Jersey has expanded the ability of individuals to keep arrest, conviction and incarceration records out of public view. As of April 2016, more people than ever before are now eligible for expungement of their records of criminal, disorderly persons, and petty disorderly persons offenses. To find out whether you can take advantage of New Jersey’s new expungement rules, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Villani & DeLuca, P.C., in Point Pleasant Beach.
What Is Expungement, and How Does It Work?
Expungement in New Jersey is the process of restricting public access to a record of arrest, conviction or punishment. It allows applicants for jobs, apartments, educational programs, child adoption, and other benefits to deny that they were arrested or convicted of a crime.
A successful petition for expungement does not make the arrest or conviction disappear entirely. In some situations, you still need to disclose an expunged criminal charge or disorderly persons offense. If you’re looking for work in law enforcement, corrections, or the court system, for example, your prospective employer will still have access to expunged criminal records. Additionally, a court can review expunged criminal records to determine your eligibility for diversion, treatment, or other alternatives to prosecution on a later arrest.
For most people and in most situations, expungement is a powerful tool for helping past offenders move on to productive lives. Just how and when you can apply for expungement depends on the nature of the past offense and how long ago it occurred.
The 2016 amendments to the New Jersey expungement law shortened the time period you need to wait before filing a petition for expungement. If you were convicted of a disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offense in municipal court, expungement is available five years after completion of a sentence, probation, or supervised program. You can petition for expungement after only three years if the judge finds that expungement is consistent with the public interest in light of your conduct and character since your last offense. For more serious criminal offenses, the periods are ten years for a general right to expungement and five years for expungement with a similar judge’s finding.
Records of arrests that do not lead to a conviction can be expunged immediately. If your case is in superior court, the expungement should occur automatically by order of the judge. If your case is in municipal court, you need to ask the judge for the documentation necessary to file a petition for expungement in superior court. You should not assume that municipal court arrest records are automatically expunged, and they can often turn up in an employer’s or landlord’s background check if they are not.
Making Full Use of Accelerated Expungement in New Jersey
At Villani & DeLuca, our experience with expungement law and practice since 1996 is especially valuable for clients who want to clean up their records as soon as possible. Our lawyers know how to present your strongest possible case for expungement to support the conduct-and-character findings that the judge will need to make when the petitioner doesn’t want to wait five years on a disorderly persons offense or ten years on an indictable offense. With unemployment rates lower than they have been since the 1990s, you owe it to yourself to clean up your record as soon as you can while the economy is expanding.
Exceptions to Expungement in New Jersey
Some serious criminal offenses cannot be expunged under New Jersey Law. These include:
• Criminal homicide, except death by auto
• Luring or enticing
• Human trafficking
• Sexual assault or aggravated sexual assault
• Aggravated criminal sexual contact
• Criminal restraint or false imprisonment (minor victim)
• Arson or related offenses
• Most sexual conduct or pornography charges involving minors
• Perjury or false swearing
• Production or possession of chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons and related materials
Call 732-820-1256 for a Free Consultation with an Expungement Attorney
The lawyers of Villani & DeLuca offer prompt and personalized client service for New Jersey residents interested in taking full advantage of their expungement rights in Ocean and Monmouth counties. Contact us to find out how we can present your strongest case for expungement right now.