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Expungements

What is an expungement?

The primary objective of the New Jersey expungement statute is to provide relief to the one-time offender who has led a law-abiding life and has disassociated himself or herself from unlawful activity. A person may seek to expunge the arrest, conviction, and related proceedings for crimes, disorderly person offenses, petty disorderly persons offenses, and borough ordinances.

It is assumed that the expunged record has been deleted from existence but it is officially sealed from the state and general public. When an individual who has gone through the process of expunging his or her record is asked if they a criminal background, he or she can honestly say NO.

Do I qualify for an expungement?

Individuals seeking to file an expungement petition must keep the following in mind:

  1. You can have an expungement done only ONCE, with the exception of expunging not guilty pleas or dismissals.
  2. Certain serious offenses, such as homicide, robbery, arson, rape, sexual assault, and endangering the welfare of a child are NOT expungable.
  3. Motor vehicle offenses (including driving while intoxicated) and domestic violence offenses (which are considered civil in nature) are NOT expungable.

How long do I have to wait to expunge my record?

Generally there is a waiting period before a person can submit a petition for expungement. How long a person has to wait depends on the offenses.

Crime
(usually handled in
Superior Court)

Timing: A petition for expungement cannot be filed until 10 years have passed from the conviction, payment of the fine, completion of parole or probation, or release from prison, whichever is later. A lesser five year waiting period may apply if all parts of the sentence have been completed and no intervening conviction occurred and expungement is deemed to be in the public interest.

 

Limitation: Expungement is not allowed if the petitioner has been convicted of another crime or more than two disorderly persons offenses. If there is more than one criminal conviction, all crimes are ineligible for expungement.

Disorderly and Petty
Disorderly Offenses
(usually handled in Municipal Court)

Timing: A petition for expungement cannot be filed until five years have passed from the conviction, payment of fine, or completion of probation or community service, whichever is later.

 

Limitation: Expungement is not allowed if the petitioner has been convicted of a crime or more that two disorderly persons offenses. Up to three disorderly or petty persons offenses can be expunged.

Municipal Ordinances

Timing: A petition for expungement cannot be filed until two years have passed from the conviction, payment of fines, or completion of probation or community service, whichever is later.

 

Limitation: Conviction of two disorderly/petty disorderly persons offenses or one crime bars expungement.

Dismissals

Timing: A petition can be filed once the case has been dismissed and filed in the court.

 

Limitation: No limit of how many dismissed offenses can be expunged.

 

Keep in mind that all out-of-state offenses are considered when determining if a person qualifies for an expungement. Only offenses in New Jersey can be expunged under the statue; any offenses that occurred out-of-state cannot be expunged. Please contact the Public Defender's office in that state to inquire if they have an expungement law.

How can I expunge my record?

While it is recommended that you use the services of a lawyer when petitioning for an expungement, some individuals may want to file their own petition and represent themselves.

Please refer to the How to Expunge Your Criminal and/or Juvenile Record for the forms needed to process your petition.

You may also want to visit your local One-Stop Career Center to inquire about additional services which may help.

If you are unware of what offenses are on your record, you may want to obtain a complete Personal Record Check.