It may have been that drunken night years ago when you were in college, or that scuffle that was blown out of proportion, but if you had any involvement with law enforcement at any point in your life, chances are there is a record of it. More and more employers are running background checks on their employees. Colleges and Universities are asking about criminal history within their applications. In some professions background checks are required by law. A knowing omission or misrepresentation on an employment application is typically grounds for immediate dismissal while disclosure of the event often means you will not be hired. Fortunately, in certain instances a prior conviction may be eligible for expungement.
Subject to some limited exceptions, an expungement gives you the legal right to say it never happened. Rather than trying to explain away a skeleton in your closet, the wiser course may be to consult with an experienced NJ expungement attorney.
The law in New Jersey allows a person to expunge certain crimes and offenses. A person can receive an expungement for 1 indictable conviction, up to 3 disorderly persons offenses, and a limitless number of township ordinances. However, certain indictable convictions can never be expunged. These include homicide, kidnapping, luring or enticing, human trafficking, aggravated sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual contact, criminal sexual contact when the victim is a minor, criminal restraining, false imprisonment, robbery, arson, endangering the welfare of a child, causing or permitting a child to engage in a prohibited sexual act, selling or manufacturing child pornography, perjury, false swearing, knowingly promoting the prostitution of the actor’s child, terrorism, and producing or possessing chemical weapons.
Before a person can receive an expungement there are certain waiting periods that apply. The clocks starts running after the sentence is complete, this includes any amount of time spent on parole or probation. A person must wait 10 years to expunge an indictable conviction, 5 years for a disorderly persons offense, and 2 years for a township ordinance.
Expungements are also available following a dismissal. People often think that if a charge is dismissed in court that the record doesn’t exist. This isn’t correct. There would still be a record of the arrest, the charges, and the disposition. An expungement can help.
A person can expunge not only certain convictions but also arrest records that result in dismissal. If the dismissal was the result of any kind of deferment program like PTI, a conditional discharge, or a conditional dismissal, then the law requires a 6 month waiting period which begins after the dismissal is entered. If the dismissal is the result of the prosecutor or judge throwing out the case, then you can immediately apply for an expungement.
The law regarding expungements is very complex with many limitations and exceptions. The process for obtaining an expungement is long and difficult. An imperfectly drafted petition for expungement may be grounds for denial and certain courts have been known to hold expungements open for years.
The attorneys at Roberts & Teeter are experienced in New Jersey expungements and can advise you whether you are eligible for an expungement, and if so, they can guide you through the process of obtaining an expungement, sealing your record, and finally putting the matter behind you.
By Michael B. Roberts, Esq.