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Fighting to Have Your Criminal Record Expunged in New Jersey, Part I

As stated by the New Jersey Supreme Court, millions of adults nationwide have criminal records that impact their reentry into society, often for many years after their sentence is complete. Criminal records present barriers to employment, licensing, housing, and school applications, among other things. In re Kollman, 210 N.J. 557  (N.J. 2012)

The New Jersey State legislature in an effort to afford a second chance to certain offenders enacted a law, allowing for the expungement of criminal records from public record. N.J.S.A. 2C:52–2(a) Under the revised expungement law the New Jersey legislature slashed the time extent for defendants to apply for expungement from at least ten years after completion of a sentence to five years, under what is referred to as the “early pathway to expungement.” N.J.S.A. 2C:52–2(a)(2).

The new expungement statute states that if at least five years has expired from the date of conviction, fine, completion of probation or parole, or release from incarceration, an individual may then petition the court for record expungement. The New Jersey expungement statute adds that in order to be eligible, the individual must not have been convicted of a crime, nor received a disorderly person’s offense, nor petty disorderly person’s offense, since the time of the conviction. According to the statute, your record will be expunged only if the court finds that expungement is in the public interest—taking into account the nature of the offense, as well as the individual’s character and conduct since conviction.

Section N.J.S.A. 2C:52–2 of the statute deals specifically with disorderly person offenses, stating that for disorderly person’s offenses, a person may apply after three years have expired from either the date of their conviction, payment of fine, satisfactory completion of probation or parole, or release from incarceration. This three-year expungement time horizon is also predicated on the individual not being convicted of a crime, disorderly person’s offense, or petty disorderly person’s offense since the time of their last conviction.

New Jersey courts consider multiple factors when determining whether your application for expungement will be accepted. In determining whether the expungement is in the “public interest” courts consider the nature of the offense as well as the applicant’s character and conduct since conviction. Additional factors considered by the court in determining whether compelling circumstances exist for an expungement under the early pathway statute, include the amount of the fine or fines imposed, the person’s age at the time of the offense, the person’s financial condition and other relevant circumstances regarding the person’s ability to pay.

Not all crimes are eligible for expungement; records of conviction for certain crimes, specified in the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice, are not eligible. The following are a few illustrations of crimes that cannot be expunged from your record:

  • Criminal Homicide under N.J.S.2C:11-1, except death by auto as specified inN.J.S.2C:11-5;
  • Kidnapping under N.J.S. 2C:13-1
  • Sexual Assault or Aggravated Sexual Assault underN.J.S.2C:14-2
  • Aggravated Criminal Sexual Contact under N.J.S.2C:14-3
  • Robbery underN.J.S.2C:15-1
  • Arson and Related Offenses underN.J.S.2C:17-1

In addition, there are some employers, generally in state and federal affiliated positions, who may still be able to examine your criminal record.

To find out whether or not you’re eligible for record expungement or whether your employer may still be able to examine your record, contact us for a consultation. We are ready to help you start the process toward getting your New Jersey criminal record expunged. To get the paperwork you needed filed with the necessary parties immediately contact the lawyers of Lubiner, Schmidt & Palumbo. Our dedicated staff of attorneys has filed hundreds of expungement petitions on behalf of our clients throughout New Jersey.

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