Please note, these FAQs merely represent some common questions, however, every situation is fact-specific.Case law provides some exceptions and/or details that other materials on the web, and/or guides, do not discuss and these FAQs are too general to address. While in many cases, there may be no such special circumstances/exceptionsavailable to you, Kelley Law Offices provides free consultations to helpdetermine the answer based on the specific facts and/or circumstances of your case.
How does New Jersey law define expungement?
According to New Jersey law, expungement "shall mean the extraction and isolation of all records on file within any court, detention or correctional facility, law enforcement or criminal justice agency concerning a person's detention, apprehension, arrest, detention, trial or disposition of an offense within the criminal justice system."
What are the waiting limits involved?
(These times do not necessarily begin to run as of the date of conviction, but rather as of the last date in the case, i.e., probation end date, date fines paid, release from incarceration, release from Parole, etc.)
For Indictable Convictions - (Superior Court matters) - Generally 10 years, but only 5 years if the requirementsof the 2010 changes to the Expungement law are met.
For Disorderly Persons/Disordelry Persons Convictions - 5 years.
For Municipal Ordinance Convictions - 2 years.
For PTI/Conditional Discharge - 6 months from completion/dismissal.
For Dismissals - no waiting period. Eligible when dismissed.
How long does the expungement process usually take?
N.J.S.A. 2C:52-9 states that the Court must hear your matter within 35 to 60 days of the date it is filed. Generally, however, the process usually takes a few months from the time you engage our services, but there is no set answer to this question because scheduling depends largely on the Court and its caseload. Various things such as incomplete records that need to be investigated, court scheduling, and/or opposition to your petition from a law enforcement agency may cause the process to be delayed. As much as possible, however, Dan will work to ensure that your expungement is completed as soon as possible.
Can I truthfully state that I have not been arrested/convicted once I have an expungement completed?*
Yes, you can truthfully answer that you have never been arrested/convicted once your expungement is complete. The exact wording from the Order that the Judge signs to officially grant your expungement states: "that the arrests, charges, and convictions which are the subject of this Order shall be deemed not to have occurred and the Petitioner may answer accordingly any questions relating to its occurrence."
* - Nevertheless, New Jersey law states that the expunged records may still be used in certain contexts. For example, the records can be used by the Dept. of Corrections for classifying a prisoner, can be used by a Judge solely for purposes of setting bail, etc. Additionally, N.J.S.A. 2C-52-27(c) states that "Information divulged on expunged records shall be revealed by a petitioner seeking employment within the judicial branch or with a law enforcement or corrections agency and such information shall continue to provide a disability as otherwise provided by law."
Can you expunge an old DUI arrest/conviction?
The short answer is no, however, while permanent, these arrests/convictions are part of your driving record, not your criminal record.While any points will eventually come off (up to three points can be subtracted from your point total each year -- from NJ-DOT-Motor Vehicle Services) the arrests/convictions will remain a part of your permanent driver's record.
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Are there any types of arrests/convictions that cannot be expunged?
Yes, convictions relating to the following generally may NOT be expunged:
(If you were arrested on these charges, however, but plead guilty to a reduced charge ultimately, completed PTI, or had the charges dismissed, you will still be eligible to expunge the matter provided you meet the other epungement requirements).
- Luring or Enticing;
- Aggravated Sexual Assault;
- Aggravated Criminal Sexual Contact;
- if the victim is a minor
- Criminal Sexual Contact;
- if the victim is a minor and the offender is not the parent of the victim
- Criminal Restraint;
- False Imprisonment;
- Arson and Related Offenses;
- Endangering the welfare of a child by engaging in sexual conduct which would impair or debauch the morals of the child;
- Endangering the welfare of a child;
- False Swearing;
- Distribution or Possession With Intent to Distribute any CDS, except:
25 grams or less of marijuana, or,
5 grams or less of hashish.
[Under the 2010 Changes to the expungement law, however, Distribution or Possession With Intent to Distribute ANY CDS may be eligible for expungementif it is a 3rd or 4th degree offense and the Court finds that expungement is consistent with the public interest, giving due consideration to the nature of the offense and the petitioner's character and conduct since conviction.]
- Human Trafficking;
- Causing or Permitting a Child to Engage In a Prohibited Sexual Act;
- Selling or Manufacturing Child Pornography;
- Knowingly Promoting the Prostitution of the Actor's Child;
- Producing or Possessing Chemical Weapons, Biological Agents, or Nuclear or Radiological Devices.
- Conspiracies or Attempts to commit any of the above;
- Crimes or conspiracies/attempts to commit such when committed by a person holding any public office, position or employment, IF the crime "involved or touched such office, position or employment."
Can you have records of federal arrests/convictions expunged?
[a] - Unfortunately, federal law only permits expungements in a few very limited number of circumstances such as expungement of records of young drug offenders, or those where the Court finds "exceptional circumstances." These circumstances are truly exceptional such as proof of government misconduct, statutes later found unconstitutional, etc. Unfortunately, federal courts have squarely rejected those whose circumstances consist of one dumb mistake and now can not find a job to support their family.
[b] - It should be noted, however, that the expungement of arrest[s]/conviction[s] on your state criminal record will cause your federal criminal record to be expunged of those arrest[s]/conviction[s]. As above, however, records that are the result of federal arrests/convictions generally can not be expunged.
I completed PTI and was told my charges would be expunged after six ("6") months. Will they automatically be expunged?
No. Attorneys and/or Judges in the criminal Courts often advise defendants that the charges they are pleading guilty to are eligible for, will be, or can be expunged, however, there is no automatic expungement in New Jersey. Whether the charges were just dismissed, you participated in PTI,even if you were acquitted at trial, there is typically an arrest and/or other type of record that exists. If unsure, the best way to check whether a record still exists is to check your record with the New Jersey State Police as described below. This record check can be done prior to contacting Dan regarding consultation or can be done as the first step in the expungement process if you may have arrests/convictions that you cannot recall.
What is involved in the expungement process?
Generally, we start by gathering the necessary records by checking your New Jersey criminal record with the New Jersey State Police - State Bureau of Identification (SBI) and/or with the Court(s)/Agencies involved in your case. Once we know exactly what your record states, we review the report so that you can learn exactly what can be expunged. (Often, this can be an area where research and investigation are needed to sort out incorrect/inaccurate Court records.) When your record research is complete, a Petition for Expungement is prepared on your behalf. Once prepared, you will review a copy of the Petition to ensure the information is correct and you will then sign a Court document called a Verification in which you make certain statements about the paperwork you are submitting. Your signature on this Verification must be notarized and then the attorney signs it and sends it to the Court.
Usually, the hearing is set for some date within a month or two of the filing and notice of the date is sent via certified mail to the various law enforcement/Court/corrections agencies in the County/Township where the offense originally took place. If none of the agencies/officials served with the paperwork enter a formal objection with the Court, which does not usually happen, then the Court will often grant the expungement without a formal hearing. The Court has the discretion, however, to require the Petitioner's attendance at the hearing.
Once the Court is satisfied with the paperwork/appearance, if necessary, the judge signs an Order directing that your records be expunged. When that Order is signed, you may then truthfully answer you have not been convicted of a crime, subject to the exceptions discussed above, and your record will be clear within a short period. It is generally a good idea to re-check your record within 3 - 6 months following the completion of an expungement to ensure that your record is as expected.
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I am interested in an expungement, but my parents/spouse do not know about the offense - can I keep the matter confidential?
Yes. Dan will do everything possible to assure confidentiality of your expungement/underlying matters.*Mailings/meetings can be arranged to other addresses or locations and all mailings from the Court are directly to your attorney.
* - Please call/e-mail to discuss details specific to your situation.
I had previously had a minor offense and/or dismissal expunged, but now have another matter or two, but I heard you cannot have a second expungement. Is this true?
NO. Provided that you do not exceed the overall limit on the number of matters than can be expunged, there is no limit to how many times you can file for expungement. Therefore, for example, if you had a Disorderly Persons (misdemeanor) conviction previously expunged you can expunge up to two more Disorderly Persons (misdemeanor) convictions whether in one Petition or several spaced over years.
Our office has obtained expungements for many clients who have previously been granted an expungement. On the flip side, we can also obtain expungement of a matter that is currently eligible while not expunging some more recent matter with the ability to re-file later to clear the remainder of the record.
Once expunged, however, we still must reveal it in future applications for expungement and it will still count against the limited number of matters one may have and still be eligible for expungement. No piggybacking of expungements.
How do I get started?/What methods of payment are accepted?
First, all clients are welcome to visit the office and you can get started by contactingus for an appointment. Our office is located in Cherry Hill, NJ, which is across the river from Philadelphia in South Jersey. Since our practice is statewide, having handled expungements in most, if not all, New Jersey Counties, we have clients throughout the state, and even those now living in other states or countries,therefore, in many cases it is not practical or convenient to visit the office in person. In fact, in most of the expungements we handle, while we would be pleased to do so, we never even meet the client face-to-face because these proceedings are designed to be granted "on the papers," meaning without appearance by counsel or Petitioner for expungement. Being out of County is not a disadvantage in any way since no appearance is required and the procedures are generallythe same for all Counties; we can handle and have handled expungements for clients throughout the state without difficulty. As a result of filing many petitions,our office is familiar with the requirements and procedures as well as people in each County's expungement process. Thatdoes not mean we get any special treatment or can get around the rules, but as common sense dictates, it does help avoid delays due to failure to followparticular local rules and makes our contact with the Courts about your case easier and more focused.
You can also get started by using your credit card over the telephone or by requesting that a fee agreement be prepared and sent to youwhich you can return with payment by check, money order, or credit card.
We accept cash, check, PayPal, MasterCard, Visa, American Express, and Discover cards.
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Kelley Law Offices, LLC
401 Cooper Landing Rd.
Cherry Hill, NJ 08002