Answers To Frequently Asked Questions About Expungement
The firm of Sutnick & Sutnick Attorneys at Law handles expungement, dismissal and sealing of your criminal record. Our record expungement lawyers are committed to helping clients clear their background and get a fresh start.
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 educational institutions.
What Crimes Can Be Expunged (And Not Expunged) From My Record?
Many crimes can be expunged after a set amount of time has passed. The most common crimes and offenses that are expunged are:
Drug possession, drug distribution, aggravated assault, simple assault, harassment, theft, fraud, shoplifting, disorderly conduct, burglary, criminal mischief and weapons charges. Call an attorney with 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.
A DUI/DWI is a traffic offense and not a criminal offense, therefore it does not show up on a criminal background and cannot be expunged.
The general rules of expungement:
- A felony or crime may be expunged 6 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 5 years if it is in the “public interest.”
- 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 4 convictions.
- A disorderly persons or misdemeanor conviction may be expunged after only 3 years if it is in the “public interest.”
- Borough ordinances or town violations can be expunged after two years.
- 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 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
New expungement laws in NJ, among others, effective June 15,2020:
- Reduced waiting period – The waiting period to expunge indictable felony convictions shortens from six years to five years.
- Increased number of convictions that can be expunged – The number of disorderly/petty disorderly persons convictions that can be expunged increases from four to five.
- Certain drug charges or possession with intent to sell drugs will be eligible.
- The successful completion of a diversionary program is no longer a bar to the expungement of other charges.
- There will be no limit to the amount of certain marijuana convictions that can be expunged
Is it possible that even though I was told I couldn’t have an expungement, the new law 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. Something that used to be a bar 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, the answer is “No” once the record is expunged. The same applies to completing apartment/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 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.
How Long Does It Take For Your Record To Clear After Expungement?
The process between filing for an expungement and getting a final order of expungement from the court takes approximately 3 months. However, it takes several more months for all of the agencies that have a record of the arrest to clear their files.
When should I file for an Expungement?
ASAP. As soon as you are eligible for an expungement you should file for one. You never know when a job opportunity or promotion may open up for you. You want your record to be cleared as soon as you can.