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Having a criminal record changes everything. It can affect your education, career, housing and more. An expungement can help you get back to normal.

What's the difference between sealing and expunging a record?

Sealing and expunging your record are similar in that they both conceal your criminal record to some extent. Sealing a record means that the public cannot see your criminal charges. However, the courts still can, and they can access them in any future proceedings you may be involved in. In expungement, your criminal history is completely concealed, even to the courts.

When can I get my record expunged?

Not all states allow expungement, so it depends on where you live. You cannot expunge a record in New York (outside of a few marijuana-related crimes), but you may be able to in New Jersey. New York does allow for some records to be sealed, however. This means that they will be hidden from the public.

In New Jersey, there is a waiting period before you are eligible to expunge your record. Depending on the charge, how many charges you have and the reasons for wanting expungement, you may have to wait between two and six years.

What charges are eligible for expungement?

Here are some of the most common charges that are eligible for expungement:

  • Drug possession
  • Drug distribution
  • Aggravated or simple assault
  • Harassment
  • Theft
  • Fraud
  • Shoplifting
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Burglary
  • Criminal mischief
  • Weapons charges

How do I get my record expunged?

The process for getting your record expunged is as follows:

  • Obtain your records by requesting them from the state police. You will need to participate in a fingerprint check.
  • Complete the necessary forms, including a petition for expungement, order for hearing and an expungement order.
  • Notarize and make three copies of your forms.
  • File two with the courts along with a cover letter and filing fee of $52.50.
  • Wait for one copy of successfully filed forms to be sent back to you with a docket number.
  • Make seven copies of the filed forms and mail them to the agencies involved in the case within five days. Include your cover letter.
  • Get a proof of notice if required from your Criminal Case Management Office.
  • Attend your hearing.
  • Distribute final expungement orders with your cover letter.

The process for expunging a record is lengthy and complicated. Missing one date or form can stop your expungement from being successful. Working with a lawyer can help ensure everything is done correctly.

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