In New Jersey, a criminal conviction may be expunged under some circumstances. Once a conviction is expunged, it may not be accessed by the general public and may only be used for extremely limited purposes, such as a future criminal investigation.
Circumstances for Expungement
Expungement is available for a defendant if:
- The defendant was not convicted of the charges that were brought against him;
- It has been 2, 5, or 10 years (depending on the type and seriousness of the offense) since a sentence has been completed, and the defendant was not convicted of any other crimes during that time period;
- The person is seeking to expunge a juvenile record;
- The charges were for a first-time minor drug offense and the defendant was given a conditional discharge; also, a year has passed since probation was terminated.
Circumstance Where Expungement Is Impermissible
Expungement is not available in New Jersey under the following circumstances:
- Certain types of serious offenses are not expungeable, such as aggravated assault, robbery, arson, etc.
- If New Jersey has a special interest in retaining the conviction records, a court may exercise its discretion and refuse to expunge them.
New Jersey’s expungement statutes state that courts must hear expungement requests within 35 to 60 days from the date of filing. However, the entire process typically takes a few months due to scheduling and caseload issues. Also, failure to provide sufficient documentation may result in incomplete records, which could lead to further delay.
Unlike other states, New Jersey does not place a limit on the number of times a person may file for expungement.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Expunge a Conviction in New Jersey?
Perhaps – many New Jersey criminal lawyers are experienced in obtaining an expungement. The lawyer can speak on your behalf during court and can help you file all the necessary paperwork. In other words, the lawyer can present your case to the judge in a better light than you may be able to.