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What Is An Expungement?

A past mistake, or a poor decision, and you can end up with a criminal record that will follow you throughout life. Luckily, the New Jersey courts have mercy on those who have made a terrible mistake. Expungements give individuals a second chance. If a criminal record is expunged, for all intents and purposes, the court proceedings surrounding the adult arrest or the juvenile situation are considered not to have occurred.

New Jersey statutes allow expungement of conviction of many indictable offenses, disorderly persons offenses, municipal ordinances, and juvenile adjudications; however, the statutes disallow expungement for convictions if the applicant has been convicted of two or more indictable offenses, or four or more disorderly persons offenses.

There are two expungement scenarios:

  1. Records are simply sealed. The expunged records are still available to law enforcement, sentencing judges, subsequent offenses and correction facilities.
  2. Records are completely destroyed.

If you are a minor accused of either delinquent or criminal acts, the law offers you a second chance. Expungements give an individual the legal right to state, even under oath, the event never occurred. In many cases, individuals who have turned 17 or 18 desire an expungement before entering adulthood.

In the past, the waiting period was 10 years for indictable convictions, and remains five years for disorderly offenses and two years for municipal ordinances. In 2010, the waiting period on indictable convictions was lowered to five years; however, applicants who have not waited the full 10 years must satisfy the judge that granting the expungement is in the public interest. No such showing need be made once the full 10 years have elapsed. Waiting periods begin to run on the date of sentencing, the date all fines are paid, or the completion date of probation or parole, whichever occurs last. Not all offenses are eligible, and several new ineligible offenses were added by the 2010 changes, including convictions that took place before the changes.

The following criminal convictions are not eligible for expungement:

  1. Felonies and first-degree misdemeanors
  2. Rape
  3. Sexual battery
  4. Corruption of a minor
  5. Sexual imposition
  6. Obscenity or pornography involving a minor

Expungements give the person the legal right to state, even under oath, that the event never occurred. All civil disabilities associated with the conviction are eliminated; however, it is important to note that expunged records must still be recited in certain situations. These situations include applications for employment with a law enforcement agency, applications for employment in the judicial system and applications for a subsequent expungement.

Expungements fall under the New Jersey Civil Court system because it is a process that is considered a civil matter. It is highly recommended to hire an attorney who understands the complexities in the New Jersey Civil Court system. James A. Abate is experienced with expungements and can help you get the clean slate you deserve.

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