If you have a criminal record, you know how difficult it can be to apply for jobs when the application inquires about a past record. Unfortunately, indicating that you have a criminal record can hurt your chances of getting your dream job or even getting into college. Fortunately, there is a way for you to have your criminal charge permanently erased from your record. Expungement is the process of wiping your permanent record clean and giving you a fresh start.
Record expungement can be complex. Timing depends on your charge, and in some cases, expungement is not an option. Hiring a New Jersey attorney is the best way to work through the expungement process. Leon Matchin has helped numerous clients have records expunged. If you or a loved one is interested in the process, learn if your case qualifies. Then contact a lawyer as soon as possible.
What is Expungement?
According to the New Jersey Courts, “Expungement is the removal, sealing, impounding, or isolation of all records on file within any court, detention or correctional facility, law enforcement or criminal justice agency.” An expungement erases information related to your case, including the arrest record, court proceedings, the conviction, outcome, and sentence,
So what does all this mean for you? If your case qualifies, your records are “erased.” This means that when asked if you have an arrest record, you can honestly answer no! Future employers who run background checks will find no record of your arrest on file. It’s as if it never existed!
Keep in mind if you apply for a job in law enforcement or with the judicial branch of the government, you must report that your records have been expunged. New Jersey law has several statutes written to address expungement policies:
- Section 2C:52-6 – Arrests not resulting in conviction qualify for an expedited expungement. Expungement is granted upon receipt of the application. Expedited expungement is possible if the court case proceeds and the defendant is found not guilty on all counts.
- Section 2C:35-14 (M) – Expungement can be granted in drug-related charges. This is after completing probation or a substance abuse program.
- Section 2C:52-5.3 – This is the “clean slate rule.” Eligible defendants who don’t qualify for earlier expungement can expunge their records ten years after their last conviction, fine payment, or probation/parole date – whichever is later.
Many people with records qualify for expungement, but some do not due to their crime. Crimes such as indictable criminal offenses, disorderly person’s offenses, juvenile offenses, and ordinance violations qualify. Ineligible crimes include charges such as homicide, robbery, aggravated sexual assault, and kidnapping. In these cases, the record will never be eligible for expungement, even under the 10-year “clean slate” rule.
When Can I Apply?
Understandably, you want your record expunged ASAP. Depending on the nature of your charge, there might be a waiting period before you can apply for expungement. If you were arrested but not charged, apply for immediate expungement. The waiting period for a town ordinance violation is two years, while for a disorderly person’s offense, it’s five years. Indictable criminal offenses typically have a waiting period of 10 years, but depending on the situation, it might be as few as five. Your waiting period begins after the following:
- Date the judge imposes the sentence
- The date you pay all fines
- Date you finish probation or parole
- Or the date you complete jail time
Whichever one of these dates is later is the date your waiting period begins. Once the waiting period is complete, you are free to apply.
How Do I Apply? Getting Help from a New Jersey Attorney
Did you know that you can file online using the eCourts Expungement System? The New Jersey Courts provide a thorough user guide providing more information about the process, as well as detailed how-to videos.
The best course of action is hiring an attorney to walk you through the process. In some cases, the applicant must appear in court to provide additional information about the case. An attorney can help you provide the information required to gain expungement. Also, an attorney will help you determine whether your case qualifies for expungement and if you have completed the necessary waiting period. Once the expungement concludes, you can apply for jobs or college and honestly state that you have no criminal record. If you have felt limited in the past by your criminal record, expungement is the answer.
Expungement Can Help
An experienced New Jersey attorney like Leon Matchin has helped many clients have their records expunged. He guides clients through the application process and helps them through court appearances, if required. Leon is very knowledgeable about New Jersey law, what qualifies as an expungeable crime, and about the various waiting periods. To learn more about expungement, contact Leon Matchin to set up an initial consultation. During your meeting, he will see if your case qualifies and provide you with information about the application process. Start the process today! Contact Leon Matchin by phone at 732-887-2479, or email him at [email protected].