Area of Law:
A criminal record can be a bar to certain types of employment, licensing, holding public office, and even the right to vote. Most states allow for a process called expungement that will remove certain arrests or criminal convictions from the offender’s record.
Depending upon the laws of the state in which you live and the nature of the crime, you may be able to get an arrest or conviction sealed or erased from your legal record. After the expungement process is complete, you will not need to disclose the conviction on a job or school application, and in most instances no record of the arrest or conviction will show up during a public records inspection or background check commonly done by potential employers, landlords, and educational institutions.
An expunged arrest or conviction may not be completely erased, however, and ordinarily will remain an accessible part of a person's criminal record, accessible to certain government agencies, including law enforcement and the criminal courts. This limited accessibility is also known as a criminal record being "under seal." In some legal proceedings, an expunged conviction that is under seal may still be considered as proof of a prior conviction.
In New Jersey, to prepare an expungement petition and prove your eligibility, you will need to provide the following information:
- The date of arrest or when taken into custody
- The statute(s) and the offense(s) for which you were arrested, taken into custody, convicted or adjudicated
- The original indictment, accusation, summons, docket number, warrant number or complaint number
- The date of the disposition
- The specific punishment or other disposition
Those seeking an expungement in New Jersey will need to fill out a Petition for Expungement and file it in the county in which they were arrested. They must also complete the Verification page and sign it in the presence of a Notary Public. An Order for Hearing is the form used by the judge to schedule a hearing regarding the expungement. If the Petition for Expungement is granted, the New Jersey court will issue an Expungement Order, which is the official document filed by the court and provided to various state agencies, giving notice of the expungement. Forms and instructions may be accessed at http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/prose/10557_expunge_kit.pdf.