How Do I Expunge My Record?
Expungement (also known as criminal record sealing ) is a process by which you can formally have your criminal records treated as if they no longer exist. Having a criminal record, no matter how long ago the crime occurred, can make obtaining a job or renting an apartment difficult. Therefore, expunging or cleansing your criminal record can provide you with a fresh start. The State of New Jersey allows you to eliminate any court, correctional facility or detention records concerning your arrest and/ or criminal conviction as long as you meet eligibility requirements. In order to meet those eligibility requirements in New Jersey the state law N.J.S.A. 2C:52-1 to N.J.S.A. 2C:52-32 must be researched to make sure you are eligible. Not all criminal charges are able to be expunged. More serious crimes such as criminal homicide, kidnapping, human trafficking and criminal sexual contact do not meet eligibility requirements. Also, you must understand, even if your conviction does not fall into the excluded crimes classification, the Court has the discretion to consider your petition and, if deemed appropriate, can deny your request. There are several situations where a Superior Court Judge may deny your petition. Some examples of reasons a petition for expungement may be denied are as follows:
- A statutory requirement is not satisfied.
- The Court finds that there is an overwhelming need for the availability of the records which outweighs your personal desirability to have the records expunged. For example, this may occur if any person or party that is noticed of the expungement petition makes an objection.
- If the charge is connected to a plea arrangement the Court may deny the expungement petition until the entire conviction is itself expunged.
- If the arrest or conviction is part of civil litigation between yourself and the State, governmental entity, or any representative or employee of such entity. The Court may deny the petition until the civil litigation is completed.
- If you have had a previous criminal conviction expunged regardless of the lapse of time between the prior expungement and the present petition. However, this provision does not apply if you are seeking expungement of a municipal ordinance or of an arrest not resulting in a conviction.
Although the expungement process is controlled by statute, the process can be confusing and must be followed exactly or the court may dismiss your request for an expungement. If you believe that you may be eligible and would benefit from an expungement, please contact our office to schedule an appointment. Be sure to have all of your paperwork from the court relating to the charge you wish to expunge to expedite the process.