Advantages of Expunging Your Record in New Jersey
February 10, 2024
Having a criminal record can affect your life in so many ways. If you keep your job, you may be able to earn a living. But if you lost your job for any reason, including completing a jail sentence, you may find challenges returning to your old job or finding new work when you have a criminal history. Employers often do background checks on applicants and are less likely to hire someone with a criminal conviction or arrest when other jobseekers without a criminal record apply. And if you have plans to become a lawyer, doctor, psychologist, or other state-licensed professional, you may find roadblocks to licensure with a record. A conviction can also haunt you in your quest for housing, schooling, financing, and gun ownership. Your past may prevent you from moving on from a mistake. However, an expungement of your New Jersey criminal record may be an option to help you get a fresh start.
How it Works
To benefit from a record expungement meant to give you a fresh start with a clear criminal record, you must petition the court after a specific time passes. If you are eligible and you meet the legal time requirement, pay all your fines, and complete your sentence, including parole or probation, you may apply for a record expungement. You can expunge your criminal record, so no trace of an arrest or conviction is detectable by a background search.
An expungement erases your criminal record so that a background check will not show the conviction, arrest, charges that were filed, and any other information connected to the case or cases that brought you into the criminal justice system. Only limited parties can still access this information, such as law enforcement agencies or those reviewing your application if you are applying for a job in the judicial system or the military.
Top Ways an Expungement can Better Your Life
Undeniably, an expungement for past crimes and offenses alleviates many obstacles. An expungement allows an applicant to deny convictions for disorderly persons offenses and/or an indictable crime conviction, sometimes both, depending on their criminal record and how many cases are included in their expungement petition. That allows those who never faced charges despite an arrest and those with convictions to access work, school, and housing resources like anyone else without a record, as long as no other charges are pending.
The following are some of the main advantages of getting an expungement in New Jersey.
If you successfully obtain an expungement of your record in New Jersey, you can honestly claim that you have no criminal history when filling out an employment application. Otherwise, an employer can check your answers about criminal convictions or previous arrests with a background check, so you do not want to lie on your application.
Applying for a Loan
Similarly, a credit application, whether a credit card or home loan, may not be approved when you have a criminal history. Lenders want steady payments from responsible borrowers. They may perceive you as unstable or untrustworthy due to your past or attribute a lifestyle to you that paints a picture of instability and recklessness. Thus, mortgages and loans for school, credit cards, or cars may be difficult to get. You are more likely to receive a rejection notice or pay higher interest rates unless you can delete your record.
Private or public housing may also be more accessible to those with a clear record. Private landlords seek quiet tenants who respect their property. Again, the perceived notion of a person with a criminal record is that they live a criminal life, move from place to place, keep company with criminals, and disrespect authority and the rules. Landlords may believe a person with a criminal past threatens the safety of other tenants. Fortunately, an expungement enables a renter to deny criminal convictions on the application, thus bypassing potential discrimination lawsuits. Government subsidized housing is also a problem since many public housing properties restrict who can be tenants, like former inmates.
Obtaining Government Services and Benefits
In fact, government rules may prohibit you from obtaining a business or recreational license for fishing or hunting due to your criminal background. Likewise, government contracts, programs, loans, grants, and benefits may be inaccessible unless your criminal record disappears and becomes invisible to the public.
Although employers, landlords, and governmental entities may not discriminate against someone because they have a criminal record, many do. They may not tell you why they reject your application, and suing for discrimination is expensive and uncertain.
Applying for a Gun Permit
One application that requires a rejection for many with a criminal past is a gun permit application. It is against the law for law enforcement to issue a gun permit to someone with a conviction for a felony crime on the record. In other words, application disqualifications for convictions, both disorderly persons offenses involving domestic violence, or indictable crimes, is the law.
How to Determine if You Qualify
The first step to getting an expungement is to verify that you qualify. The following are key questions that an experienced New Jersey expungement attorney will ask when determining your eligibility.
Total Number of Crimes and Offenses on Your Record
New Jersey allows expungement of an indictable crime and up to three disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons convictions in a single expungement petition. With no indictable crimes on your record, you can expunge up to five disorderly or petty disorderly persons offenses.
Satisfying the Waiting Period
If the police arrest you and the charges are dismissed, you can apply for a record expungement of the arrest immediately. However, if you completed your sentence through a diversionary program, such as the Pre-Trial Intervention Program, you must wait six months after its completion before applying. For a municipal ordinance violation, you must wait two years after completing your sentence. You must wait five years to expunge convictions for disorderly persons offenses and indictable crimes, unless you qualify for an early pathway expungement.
With New Jersey’s Clean Slate Law, you may expunge all convictions and arrests that occurred over ten years ago, as long as you satisfy all monetary and other obligations of your sentences. Also, you cannot use the Clean Slate Law to benefit from expungement if your crimes or offenses are ineligible for expungement.
Determining if Your Crimes can be Expunged
Unfortunately, you cannot delete your record of certain criminal convictions, such as murder, manslaughter, treason, terrorism, robbery, manufacturing terrorist weaponry, anarchy, arson, kidnapping, sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child, certain drug crimes, and some crimes of fraud and dishonesty in the judicial process and by elected public officials. And a DUI, which is not a crime but a traffic offense, is not eligible for expungement.
If You Want to Expunge Your Criminal Record in NJ, Precision is Key
Conviction records of indictable crimes and disorderly persons offenses or petty disorderly persons violations are expungeable upon petition and court approval under New Jersey law. To apply, you must follow the rules and procedures precisely, providing the dates of arrest, the specific crimes or offenses charged, complaint information, the date the case concluded, and the sentence. You must fill out the correct forms and meticulously follow all of the steps in the process to ensure that your expungement petition is granted.
Why is it Important to Work with an Experienced NJ Expungement Attorney?
Although the benefits of expungement are undeniable, the procedure for obtaining one can be daunting. As an individual untrained in legal practices, you can best position yourself for success with the help of a knowledgeable expungement attorney. Our team at Proetta, Oliver, & Fay can help you avoid mistakes and delays in expunging your criminal record. Get advice and assistance from an expungement lawyer at our office in Evesham Township in Burlington County by calling 609-850-8284 today.