The attorneys of Sutnick & Sutnick Attorneys at Law handle expungement, dismissal and sealing of criminal records. Our record expungement lawyers are committed to helping clients clear their backgrounds and get a fresh start. Review the questions and answers below. Bring us your own questions in an initial consultation with a member of our team.
What is record expungement?
An expungement is basically an erasing or “sealing” of a criminal record so it cannot be seen by the general public or on a criminal background check. Typically, after an expungement is completed, you no longer need to disclose an arrest or conviction on applications for employment, housing or admission to educational institutions.
What crimes can be expunged (or not) from my record?
Many crimes can be expunged after a set amount of time has passed. The most common crimes and offenses that are often expungeable are the following: Drug possession, aggravated assault, simple assault, harassment, theft, fraud, shoplifting, disorderly conduct, burglary, criminal mischief and weapons charges.
Call an attorney and ask about your specific charge to determine expungement eligibility.
Only the most serious charges cannot be expunged. Some charges that cannot be expunged include:
- Luring or enticing
- Sexual assault
- Endangering the welfare of a child
- Certain drug distribution crimes
Can I have a felony, misdemeanor or DUI expunged from my record?
It is important to expunge your entire criminal record or at least as many charges as possible.
The general rules of expungement are as follows:
- A felony or crime may be expunged 5 years after the date that the sentence was completed. This is true even if you have 3 other disorderly persons convictions on your record.
- A felony or crime may be expunged after only 3 years if there are “compelling reasons.”
- A disorderly persons or misdemeanor conviction may be expunged 5 years after the sentence is completed and fines were paid. You may expunge a total of 5 convictions.
- A disorderly persons or misdemeanor conviction may be expunged after only 3 years if there are “compelling reasons.”
- Borough ordinances or town violations can be expunged after two years.
- A DUI/DWI conviction typically cannot be expunged.
- A dismissal of a charge may be expunged immediately.
- A dismissal that was the result of a diversionary program may be expunged 6 months after the dismissal date.
Who is eligible for record expungement In New Jersey?
Anyone who has an eligible charge who has waited the right amount of time can have their record expunged.
Typical expungement qualification depends on these factors:
- Amount of time that has lapsed since arrest or conviction
- Nature and severity of the crime or charge
- Applicant’s criminal record
Is it possible that even though I was told I couldn’t have an expungement, the new laws will let me clear my record?
Yes. It is important to take a new look at your criminal record now that the expungement rules have changed and are relaxed. Previous bars to expungement may have been removed.
Do I have to disclose an expunged charge on a job application?
Generally, you will not need to disclose the arrest or conviction on an employment application after the expungement process is finalized. If an application asks whether you have ever been arrested, your answer can be “no” once the record is expunged. The same applies to completing apartment and other housing rental or educational institution applications.
However, some jobs specifically ask about expunged cases and disclosure may be required. It is important to review the question carefully and consult your attorney if you are in doubt.
If a charge is expunged, will it show up on a background check?
Typically, after expungement, a record of the expunged arrest or criminal conviction will not appear on a criminal background check.
After an expungement, how long does it take for your record to clear?
The process of filing for an expungement and getting a final order of expungement from the court takes approximately one year. There is currently a backlog of expungement petitions and so the wait time has increased.
When should I file for an expungement?
The right time is as soon as possible (ASAP). Specifically, as soon as you are eligible for an expungement, you should file for one. You never know when a job opportunity, a promotion or another avenue toward a better future may open up for you. It is important to be ready to seize the day and pursue your dreams when you have the chance. You should seek to clear your criminal record as soon as you can.