Let's say you have just been convicted of a crime in New Jersey. You now have a criminal record which will be seen by future employers or other agencies that you may need to work with in the future. These agencies may not choose to hire or work with you once they discover you have been convicted of a crime, even if it happened years before. This can be very devastating as one mistake can limit your employment options and reputation. If you have been found guilty of a crime, you are probably wondering what you can do to make sure it doesn't ruin future opportunities.
Luckily, there is a way to make this happen. It is called expungement of records. In New Jersey, after a certain amount of time following your conviction, you can apply to "extract and isolate all records on file...concerning a person's detection, apprehension, arrest, detention, trial, or disposition of an offense within the criminal justice system." While your record may not vanish, it will not be able to be viewed by future employers or other agencies. Basically, your conviction is treated as if it had never happened. This is extremely beneficial and if you have been convicted of a crime, you should seek an expungement.
However, an expungement does not happen easily. First, to be eligible for expungement for a crime, you cannot be convicted of more than one other crime or more than two offenses. To be eligible for expungement for a disorderly persons offense, you cannot be convicted of a crime or more than three other disorderly persons offenses. Similarly, any parole or probation violations will exclude you from expungement. Certain crimes will not be able to be expunged, such as murder, manslaughter, treason, anarchy, kidnapping, rape, arson, perjury, false swearing, robbery, embracery, or a conspiracy or attempt to commit one of these crimes, or being an accomplice to one of these crimes. Also, a repeated disorderly persons offense will constitute the denial of an expungement. If you have been convicted of possession of CDS with the intent to sell, you are not eligible for expungement except if the crimes involve: marijuana, where the amount sold is less than 25 grams; hashish, where the amount sold is less than 5 grams; or any other controlled dangerous substance if the conviction is of the third or fourth degree and the court finds that it is in public interest to grant expungement considering the nature of the offense and your character and conduct since your conviction. In order to determine whether expungement is in public interest, a hearing will be held. This means you should bring in an attorney who can fight for you and convince the court that you deserve to have your record expunged. If you received a dismissal following a supervisory treatment program like a pretrial intervention, you may not have other charges expunged.
Depending on the seriousness of your offense, you must wait a certain amount of time before you can apply for an expungement. If you have been convicted of an indictable offense, you must wait a minimum of 10 years after your conviction, payment of fine, completion of parole, or release from incarceration, whichever comes later, before you are eligible for expungement. Two exceptions exist to this rule: you have waited 10 years after all but the payment of your fine, but the court finds that you complied with any payment plan ordered by the court, or could not do so because of extenuating circumstances; or at least 5 years have passed since your conviction, payment of fine, completion of parole, or release from incarceration, whichever comes later, and the court finds that it is in public interest to grant expungement considering the nature of the offense and your character and conduct since your conviction. For a disorderly persons offense or petty disorderly persons offense, the waiting period is 5 years. If you have been convicted of possession with the intent to sell of under 25 grams of marijuana or 5 grams of hashish and were under 21 at the time of the offense, you can wait only a year before applying for expungement. This occurs only if you have not been convicted of any subsequent crimes, violated any conditions of parole, or had a prior crime dismissed because of a supervisory treatment program like a pretrial intervention.
If all of these requirements have been met, you may begin your application for expungement. You begin by filling out a petition for expungement. Every petition will include your date of birth, date of arrest, offenses for which you were arrested and convicted, the original indictment, summons or complaint number, your date of conviction, and the court's disposition of the matter. Each petition will also include a statement with the affidavit confirming there are no pending criminal charges or offenses against you, a statement with affidavit that you have not been granted an expungement before in the case of expunging a criminal conviction, and a statement with affidavit setting forth the nature of the original charge, the court of disposition and the date of disposition if you have received a dismissal because of a supervisory treatment or diversion program. A copy of the petition will be sent to seven people: the Attorney General of New Jersey; the Superintendent of State Police, Expungement Unit; the County Prosecutor; the Clerk of the municipal court if a municipal court heard the matter; the Chief of Police or other head of the police department where the offense was committed or the arrest was made; the chief law enforcement officer of any other law enforcement agency of the state that participated in the arrest; and the Warden or superintendent of any institution in which you were incarcerated. You must also pay a fee of $30.00 to the State Treasurer in administrative costs. Once you file the petition, the court will fix a time between 35 and 60 days for hearing your matter where they will determine whether you should have your record expunged. The court has the final say on this decision, and they can either grant you an expungement without a hearing or deny you an expungement even if there are no objections from the people to which the petitions were sent. It is recommended to hire an attorney for this hearing as they will give you the best chance at getting an expungement.
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So if you are worried that your life is ruined due to your conviction, do not fret. If you have met these conditions you can make sure that your criminal record is hidden and you do not need to bear that burden for the rest of your life. If you are seeking representation for your hearing or have questions regarding whether you are eligible for expungement, contact LS&P Lawyers right away. We are available 24/7 for free consultation at (908) 709-0500. We have had over 35 years of success in courts all over the State and would be glad to use our years of experience to help your with your legal matters.