New Jersey Expungement


What is an Expungement?

Under New Jersey law, an expungement is an extraction and isolation of records pertaining to one’s criminal history. Therefore, expunged criminal records in New Jersey are not “erased,” or “destroyed,” but segregated and not generally available when someone does an “official search.” An “official search” is a search in which one does with a court system or law enforcement. After a judge grants an expungement order, a petitioner will receive a signed court order from the judge stating that the offense “…shall be deemed not to have occurred and the petitioner may answer any questions accordingly.” The courts, detention or correctional facilities, law enforcement agencies, and probation departments must remove all expunged records to an isolated location. Thus, all expunged records are no longer publicly available. The general public, employers, insurance companies, landlords, adoption agencies, creditors, or the like performing a background check will not have access to such records. A requestor will receive the message “no record.” Expunged records include “complaints, warrants, arrests, commitments, processing records, fingerprints, photographs, index cards, “rap sheets” and judicial docket records.”

If I expunge my conviction, can I legally say I have never been arrested?

With some exceptions, once you expunge your arrest(s) and/or conviction(s), you are legally permitted to say under oath that it never occurred. In addition, expunging your criminal record will eliminate all civil disabilities put into effect as a result of your arrest or conviction.

What are some exceptions to legally denying or not having to divulge your expunged criminal record?

You must divulge your record if you are applying for a job with the following government agencies: (N.J.S.A. 2C:52-27(c))

  1. the court,
  2. a law enforcement agency,
  3. department of corrections, or
  4. the judicial branch of government.

You must divulge your record if requested by the following agencies or in the following situations:

  1. Use of Expunged Records by Holding Agency in a Pending Petition for Expungement, (N.J.S.A. 2C:52-17)
  2. Use of Expunged Records by the Violent Crimes Compensation Board, (N.J.S.A. 2C:52-18)
  3. Inspections of Records by Court Order, (N.J.S.A. 2C:52-19)
  4. Use of Expunged Records for Diversion Program, (N.J.S.A. 2C:52-20)
  5. Use of Expunged Records for Bail Hearing / Presentence Report / Sentencing, (N.J.S.A. 2C:52-21)
  6. Use of Expunged Records by Parole Board, or (N.J.S.A. 2C:52-22)
  7. Use of Expunged Records by Department of Corrections  (N.J.S.A. 2C:52-23)

While expungement of your criminal record will prevent employers or the like performing an “official search” from gaining access to your criminal records, it will not prevent private database companies performing an “unofficial search” from sharing your outdated information with requestors, as discussed below.

Can a private database company report a criminal record after expungement?

After your criminal record is expunged, generally within 30-60 days, it will be removed from state and federal databases. Private background check providers may still report your outdated record. Therefore, to ensure that private background check providers do not report your outdated record to employers or the like performing a criminal background check, it is important that you notify private database companies of your expunged or sealed record. After notification, the provider is required to comply with the judge’s order of expungement or sealing and remove the outdated information.

Note Before You Continue:

Our law firm offers four (4) expungement service packages. With the exception of our Attorney Standard Package, we notify over 500 private  database companies of your expunged or sealed record. Generally, the record clearance update is completed within thirty (30) days from such time providers are notified. In this book, we provide you with all the information you will need to notify private database companies of their legal obligation to update your records, once you have expunged your criminal record.

What is the purpose of an expungement?

The purpose of an expungement is to provide an “ex-offender” who has demonstrated rehabilitation a chance to re-integrate into society. Expunging your criminal record will conceal your records from public view. The intent of the New Jersey State Legislature in enacting expungement legislation  is to give deserving “ex-offenders” or “first-time offenders,” a “clean start.” “Ex-offenders” or “first-time offenders” who have managed to overcome their troubled past and change their lives for the better, deserve an opportunity to fully re-integrate into society. Expunging a criminal record gives a deserving “ex-offender” or “first-time offender” a “clean slate,” so that he or she can become a productive member of society. The idea is for “ex-offenders” or “first-time offenders” to receive appropriate penalties without the backlash of a permanent criminal record. In recent years, the New Jersey courts have made significant strides towards providing deserving “ex-offenders,” or “first-time offenders,” with the chance to re-integrate into society.

However, the New Jersey State Legislature and the New Jersey Courts both recognize that there is a delicate balancing of public policy that persists in expungement law. On one hand, it is important for the New Jersey legislature and courts to give “ex-offenders” or “first-time offenders” who have undergone rehabilitation a chance to re-integrate into society and recapture the American dream. On the other hand, the public’s need to access criminal history records for public safety is of equal importance. Therefore, the New Jersey legislature and courts balance the two public policy measures by setting forth requirements for expungement eligibility based on the type of conviction(s), seriousness of the conviction(s), number of convictions, time passed since the conviction(s), and rehabilitative measures taken since the conviction(s).

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