In general, you can expunge convictions that are categorized as Crimes, Disorderly Persons Offenses, Petty Disorderly Persons Offenses, and Municipal Ordinance Violations. As long as the charge is not one of certain types of crimes which are precluded from expungement, or otherwise barred due to you having too many convictions, you can petition the Court to have all public records deleted. In essence, after the Court has granted the petition, to the typical business inquiry you will not have any criminal record. The expungement removes all fingerprint cards, ID photos, arrest reports, computer data entries, and related documents or information, and separates it into an expungement database. The information is not destroyed. It is placed in a file which has strict safeguards on it to prevent inadvertent disclosure.
When Can I Apply For Expungement?
Each category of crime, offense or violation has a different 'waiting period' before you are eligible to petition the court for this type of relief. A crime (an indictable level charge) has a 10 year waiting period from the date the sentence is completed before you can apply. An offense (a disorderly or petty disorderly persons charge) has a 5 year waiting period. A violation ( a municipal ordinance charge) has a 2 year waiting period. As noted above, this waiting period starts when you complete the sentence. If you were sentenced and for example, had to pay a fine, the time starts to run when you finish paying the fine. If you never completed the payment, the clock does not start running.
How Do I Know If I Am Eligible to Expunge My Record?
The shortest and best way to confirm that you are eligible to expunge you record is to take two steps. First, go to your local police department and submit a copy of your fingerprints for a check with the New Jersey State Police. This will give you a computerized printout of the information the State Police have on file in regards to your criminal record. Second, get a copy of the Judgment of Conviction (also called a disposition sheet) for each conviction on your record from the Court where the conviction was entered. This will give you a list of the convictions by statutory citation. Combined, this gives you the information needed to determine whether you are eligible to have a petition granted. In rare occasions, when we are filing the petition on behalf of a client, there are additional documents that we need to obtain, but in most circumstances, the ones listed above are sufficient to resolve most eligibility issues.
Can I Expunge My Own Record Without A Lawyer?
Absolutely. The New Jersey petition process is not really complex in regards to most petitions. The State of New Jersey provides a format for pro-se petitioners to follow, at http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/prose/10557_expunge_kit.pdf which provides a good general format for the petitioner to seek an expungement. Unfortunately, this type of petition can have certain issues that may result in the petition being denied, typically with a terse 'denied without prejudice'. (This means that the petition is denied for unstated reasons, but you can reapply after you fix what was wrong. Now if they would only tell you what was wrong with the petition...). If you are trying to determine whether you are eligible; or, are having problems with the pro-se petition process, it is advisable to seek legal advice before proceeding.
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