Wiping the Slate Clean
I am often asked by prospective clients, “Do I really need an expungement?” The answer is “yes, you do.” So, what exactly is an expungement? Under New Jersey law, expungement literally means “the extraction and isolation of all records on file with any court, detention or correction facility, law enforcement or criminal justice agency concerning a person’s detection, apprehension, arrest, detention, trial or disposition of an offense within the criminal justice system.” N.J.S.A. 2C:52-1. In short, this means that the expunged matter is deemed not to have occurred.
There are many benefits associated with receiving an expungement of one’s criminal record. In today’s highly competitive job market, many potential employers request criminal background checks from applicants, and if one delays until such a request is made to pursue an expungement, it may so happen that the job could go to someone else while the expungement process unfolds. Additionally, the presence of any type of conviction, or even an arrest, has the capacity to prevent one from receiving a firearm purchaser’s identification card. These are just some of the reasons it pays to evaluate your eligibility as soon as possible.
Recently, there have been some critical changes to the law in New Jersey regarding who may be entitled to receive an expungement. For example, the law used to require an individual who had been convicted of a crime of the first; second, third or fourth degree to wait for the expiration of ten years from the date the sentence, parole, or probation was completed. Under the law as amended, it is currently possible to obtain an expungement of one of these crimes after the passage of five years, provided certain conditions are met and the court finds it is in the “public interest.” N.J.S.A. 2C:52-2.
Additionally, the amended statute currently permits the expungement of any third or fourth degree controlled dangerous substance offenses “where the court finds that expungement is consistent with the public interest, giving due consideration to the nature of the offense and the petitioner’s character and conduct since conviction.” N.J.S.A. 2C:52-2. Under the old law, convictions for these types of offenses were ineligible for expungement except in very limited circumstances.
Of course, each case is unique, and the ultimate eligibility determination will depend upon your specific circumstances. If you are interested in exploring if you are eligible for an expungement, I invite you to contact me and schedule an appointment so we can review your history in detail.