What Does the Expungement Process Look Like?

Before you can expunge your record, you need to know what offenses you need to have expunged, the date, and the location.

Step One: Obtain Your Criminal Record

You’ll need to know whether the offense resulted in only arrest, a conviction, or a deferred disposition like Pretrial Intervention, a Conditional Discharge, or a Conditional Dismissal. Finally, you will need to know what penalties were imposed, including jail/prison, probation, parole, and fines and fees. If you have only one offense or know exactly where each offense occurred, then the expungement can be filed without the criminal record. However, every offense must be listed on the expungement application, even those that did not result in a conviction. Failure to include any arrest will result in the petition being rejected and having to be refiled at an additional expense.   Click this link to find out more about getting your record.

Step Two: Draft a Petition for Expungement

Your attorney will take the information you provide them or from the criminal record and draft a “Petition for Expungement.” It will include biographical information about yourself to make sure they expungement the right person’s record. This information is critically important especially of you have a common last name like Smith, Jones, Hernandez, etc. The petition will then identify each court where the arrest(s) took place and provide information about the arrest and results. The Petition must identify each and every court an arrest occurred and must be filed in the Superior Court where your offenses occurred. If there are multiple counties, it must be filed in the County were the first felony occurred. If there were no felony convictions, then in the Superior Court of the County were the first misdemeanor/disorderly person’s offense occurred. The petition must be served by certified mail on several State and local agencies, including the County Prosecutor, Courts of Arrest, and Attorney General.

File along with the Petition is an Order for a Hearing Date. Upon receipt of the petition and order, the court will assign a date for the expungement hearing.

Step Three:  Your Hearing Date

If the Prosecutor or Attorney General object to the expungement they will notify the expungement DWI attorney and Court and the parties will have to appear in Superior Court. Expungements are rarely contested, as the prosecutor is just too busy to challenge something the legislature allows for. If there is no challenge, then the Court will sign the court order Expunging each and every arrest, conviction, PTI, Conditional Discharge, and Conditional dismissal from your record. This includes not only your arrest record, but your mug shot, fingerprints, probation record, etc.

Step Fourth: Enjoy Your Second Chance

 With your record expunged you can now treat your past offenses as if they never happened. This will allow you to answer “no” to answer criminal background checks and will even allow you to apply for a New Jersey Firearms Identification Card. There is one exception to reporting prior expunged crimes, and that is if you were applying for admission to be a New Jersey Lawyer or Judge.

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