There are certain factors that must be considered when determining whether or not you qualify for an Expungement of your New Jersey Criminal Record. First is the nature of the offense you seek to have expunged. Second, is the number of convictions (not arrests) Third, is the time since the last violation occurred.
STEP 1: LOCATION OF OFFENSE
This information obtains only to expungement of offenses that occurred in New Jersey. If you have offenses that occurred outside of the State of New Jersey, then you will need to seek a lawyer from that jurisdiction to handle that matter. Further, at this time there is no provision in the law to expunge federal charges.
STEP 2: AUTOMATIC DISQUALIFICATION
There are certain crimes society deems so serious, they can never be expunged. If you have been charged with any of the following crimes, then you will not be eligible for an expungement.
Criminal Homicide (except death by auto) Kidnapping; Luring or Enticing; Human Trafficking; Aggravated Sexual Assault; Aggravated Criminal Sexual Contact; Criminal Sexual Contact; Criminal Restraint; False Imprisonment; Robbery; Arson and Related Offenses; Endangering the welfare of a child; Causing or permitting a child to engage in a prohibited sexual act; Selling or manufacturing child pornography; False Swearing; Knowingly promoting the prostitution of the actor’s child; Terrorism; Producing or Possessing Chemical Weapons, Biological Agents or Nuclear or Radiological Devices; and conspiracy or attempts to commit any of these offenses.
STEP 3: HOW MANY OFFENSES?
If you have not committed any crime that makes you ineligible, then you may now expunge any number of crimes and disorderly persons charges. However, the more offenses, the longer you have to wait for expungement.
- ONE CRIME: After you have gone five years from completing probation/parole/custodial sentence for any single felony/criminal conviction, you may expunge one felony conviction and up to three disorderly person’s offenses (misdemeanors). If you have no felony convictions, then you can expunge up to four disorderly persons offenses. Felonies or Crimes are always heard in Superior Court and Disorderly Person’s Offenses are usually heard in Municipal Court.
- MULTIPLE CRIMES: Under N.J.S. 2C:52-5.3, you may now expunge any number of qualifying felony convictions with a “clean slate” expungement. Under this new type of expungement, a person can expunge an unlimited number of qualifying violations if more than ten years has passed since you completed probation, parole, or a custodial sentence.
- MUNICIPAL COURT VIOLATIONS: If you do not have any felony/criminal convictions, then you may expunge four disorderly person’s/misdemeanor offenses after waiting three years from the date you finished any probation or jail sentence. If you have one felony conviction, then you may expunge three disorderly persons offenses within this same time frame. You can expunge an unlimited number of disorderly person’s offenses by waiting ten years and applying for a ONE TIME, “clean slate” expungement.
STEP 4: WAITING PERIOD TO EXPUNGE YOUR RECORD
In 2018, New Jersey reduced the waiting period for an expungement for felony/crime from ten-years to five-years after and for a disorderly person’s offense to five years. For a “clean-slate” expungement, the waiting period is ten years. This time period starts after you have served any prison sentence, term of probation or parole, paid any restitution, and have satisfied any other special conditions like community service. You must also not have any charges pending against you.
There is a way to apply for an early expungement. The “early pathway expungement” law will allow a person to reduce the waiting period for a felony to five years after and three years for disorderly persons violations, if the person meets the following additional requirements:
- It has been at least five years since you completed your sentence for the most recent crime/felony or three years since your last misdemeanor sentence was complete;
- You have not been convicted of a crime, disorderly persons offense, or petty disorderly persons offense since the time of the conviction for your most recent offense; and
- The court finds that expungement is in the public interest.
An “Early Pathway” Expungement is not guaranteed. The court must be convinced that you are not only eligible, but that you have truly learned from your mistake and bettered yourself. The more serious the crime, the more convincing it will take to convince the court that your charges should be expunged early.
If you meet these requirements or have questions about your eligibility, please call Attorney Steven W. Hernandez, at 732-286-2700 for a free telephone consultation.