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How Long do You Have to Wait to Get your Record Expunged in NJ?

April 5, 2024

Determining How Long You Have to Wait to Apply for an Expungement in NJ

New Jersey’s expungement laws have been changed recently, allowing easier and expanded access to expungements. Motivated by simplifying the expungement process to allow more individuals in New Jersey to benefit from second chance opportunities, the legislature has continued to revise expungement law to make expungements available to those who meet eligibility requirements, including satisfying the applicable waiting period. So how long do you have to wait to meet the waiting period criteria for an expungement?

The answer is more complex than one singular number of months or years. It depends on the indictable crimes, disorderly persons offenses, municipal ordinance violations, and charges contained in your criminal history and the resolutions of these cases. Here, our New Jersey expungement lawyers explore the applicable wait times for each scenario. Contact us directly to discuss your specific criminal record and we can help determine when you can start your expungement petition.

If You Were Arrested and the Case was Dismissed

If you want to expunge your record of convictions for crimes, offenses, and ordinance violations, along with the accompanying arrest and other applicable judicial records, you may apply for an expungement after waiting the required period unless there is no wait time by law. For example, you do not have to wait to delete certain arrest records.

When the court dismisses your case, you are acquitted, or found not guilty of all charges, you can apply for an expungement of all records associated with the charges immediately. Even with a dismissal, records still exist, so you can expunge them without waiting.

The latest amended expungement law, allows you to immediately apply to the Superior Court for an expungement of records of arrest for crimes, disorderly persons offenses, petty disorderly persons offenses, or municipal ordinance violations if the arrest resulted in a dismissal, acquittal, or discharge without a conviction of guilt, but not for plea bargained dismissals, acquittals, or discharges that also include other convictions.

If You Completed a Diversionary Program

Diversionary program graduates must wait slightly longer. Graduates of the Pre-Trial Intervention Program in Superior Court and conditional discharge or conditional dismissal in Municipal Court must wait six months from the date when their charges were dismissed before the court will grant an expungement of their records. But that is not as long a wait as for felony criminal convictions and disorderly persons offense convictions.

If You Were Convicted of a Crime or Offense

Before filing an expungement application for disorderly persons offenses and petty disorderly persons offenses, you must wait five years from the date of the last conviction, fine payment, parole or probation end date, or release from jail, whichever is latest. To qualify, you must have no more than five convictions for disorderly persons offenses, petty disorderly persons offenses, or a combination of the two, and no criminal convictions in or out of the state to apply under this section.

Also, you may expunge one eligible (not prohibited to expunge by law) crime and three disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offenses, five years from the date of the last conviction, financial assessment payment, parole or probation term, or release from prison or jail. You may delete more if all eligible crimes and offenses appear in the same judgment of conviction or arise from the same crime spree, meaning the crimes occurred close together and are “interdependent.”

Early Application Opportunities

Shorter wait times for disorderly persons offenses, petty disorderly persons offenses, and indictable crimes are available under the early pathway expungement exception in some cases. A court may grant an expungement application for disorderly persons and petty disorderly persons offenses after three years, and after four years for indictable crimes or indictable crimes plus disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offenses, when all conditions are met and “compelling circumstances” exist to grant it.

Options for Expungements of Marijuana Offenses

When your convictions concern the sale, use, or intent to distribute under an ounce of marijuana or the sale, use, or intent to distribute marijuana near school property or public housing, park, or building, or other lesser crimes associated with marijuana (paraphernalia, failing to turn over marijuana to an officer), you can delete your record immediately. Your conviction is treated like a disorderly persons offense for the purposes of expungement. For third degree marijuana convictions, your wait time is three years, but you have no wait time for fourth degree convictions.

If Your Conviction Involves Municipal Ordinance Violations

For municipal ordinance violations, expungement is available for an unlimited number of these, after two years from the date of the last conviction, assessment payment, probation termination date, or incarceration release, whichever is later, so long as you have no criminal history of indictable crimes and no more than two disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offenses.

If Ten Years Have Passed

With enough time passing, many crimes and offenses can be cleared from your record. N.J.S.A. 2C:52-5.3 is New Jersey’s Clean Slate law that allows expungement for all eligible crimes, disorderly persons offenses, petty disorderly persons offenses, and municipal ordinances after ten years from the date of the last conviction, payment of assessments, parole or probation end date, or release from incarceration, whichever is latest. Sometimes, even unpaid fines will not prevent a successful clean slate expungement.

If You Want to Expunge Your Juvenile Record

When you have juvenile delinquency adjudications and accompanying records, you may have them all expunged after three years from the final release and discharge from custody or other court order, and no other convictions, crimes, or offenses exist after release or court order. Individual juvenile records are subject to the same wait periods as adult crimes, offenses, or violations.

If You Graduated from Drug Court

Unlike other diversionary programs, Drug Court graduates may expunge all records, except for ones that are ineligible to be expunged, like serious crimes, including specific drug crimes. There is no wait time. However, convictions occurring after the expungement may restore the deleted records. 

You Can’t Expunge a DWI Conviction

You may wonder how long you must wait to expunge your DWI conviction. Unfortunately, expungements are available for crimes, offenses, and ordinance violations, not traffic violations. A DUI is a motor vehicle violation in New Jersey and not a part of your criminal record, only your driving record. The conviction will stay on your driving record permanently.

Let Proetta, Oliver, & Fay Help Determine if You Satisfied the Waiting Period for Your Expungement in New Jersey

The various waiting periods, exceptions, and allowances to qualify for and apply for expungement in New Jersey can be confusing. Timing is crucial. Getting trusted, learned legal guidance on expungements before you seek one is the best way to assure that you know if, when, and how to apply. An expungement attorney at Proetta, Oliver, & Fay can explain the laws governing eligibility and advise you of the appropriate time for submitting your expungement application. We can also guide you in the process and assist with completing your application to ensure its success. Call a local expungement lawyer at our Evesham Township, NJ office at (609) 850-8284 for advice in a free consultation.

Contact Us

Our phones are answered 24 hours a day. We are available weekdays during business hours. We also meet with clients on evenings and weekends by request. We have four office locations conveniently located in Jersey City, Edison, Middletown, Cranford, Burlington, and Hamilton. All major credit cards are accepted.

Burlington Office

525 Highway 73,
Suite 104, Marlton,
New Jersey 08053
Phone: 609-850-8284
By Appointment Only

Hamilton Office

100 Horizon Center
Boulevard, Hamilton,
New Jersey, 08691
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Point Pleasant Office

3828 River Road,
Suite A, Point Pleasant,
New Jersey 08742
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Middletown Office

180 Kings Highway,
Middletown Township,
New Jersey 07748
By Appointment Only