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Expunge That Mistake of Your Youth

Written by The Fein Print Category:

By: Lisa M. McQuade and James E. Shepard

Had a minor scrape with the law in the past? New Jersey law permits the expungement of a criminal record in many instances. Expungement is the extraction and isolation of all records on file within any court, detention or correctional 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. Records which may be expunged include complaints, warrants, arrests, commitments, processing records, fingerprints, photographs, index cards, "rap sheets" and judicial docket records.

Who is eligible for an expungement? A person convicted of a municipal ordinance, a violation, a misdemeanor, petty disorderly person or disorderly person. A person arrested and never convicted of an offense may apply for expungement, too. A person cannot apply for an expungement if he or she has been previously convicted of a crime in New Jersey or any other jurisdiction and has been adjudged a disorderly person or petty disorderly person on more than two occasions. Conviction of certain types of crimes also disqualify a person from seeking an expungement such as homicide, kidnapping, arson, human trafficking, arson, sexual assault, terrorism, robbery and false imprisonment. The nature of the offense dictates the length of time you must wait before petitioning the court for an expungement.

A person found guilty of violating a municipal ordinance may apply for expungement after two years from the date of satisfaction of the last condition of his/her sentence. Persons convicted of a disorderly persons offense or petty disorderly offense are a eligible to apply for expungement after five years. In most other circumstances, a person may apply for expungement ten years from the date of his or her conviction, payment of the fine, satisfactory completion of probation or parole, or release from incarceration whichever is later.

To apply for an expungement, you must file a petition in superior court in the county where the arrest occurred. The petition must be served on the government and police agencies involved in the arrest and conviction. Once the order of expungement is granted and served on all the appropriate parties, the arrest, conviction and any proceedings related to it are deemed not to have occurred. A petitioner is however, required to disclose an expungement in three circumstances: 1) on a petitioner's verification on a subsequent petition for expungement; 2) to any judge, if the prior charges were dismissed because of the person's acceptance and successful completion of a supervisory treatment or other diversion program and the judge is considering accepting the person into a supervisory treatment or other diversion program for a subsequent criminal charge and 3) if that person is seeking employment within the judicial branch or with a law enforcement or corrections agency. Otherwise, the petitioner is not required to disclose the expunged conviction.

For more information please contact via email James E. Shepard or by phone at 973-538-4700 ext. 120.

Fein, Such, Kahn & Shepard, P.C. is general practice law firm of more than 50+ attorneys serving clients in New Jersey and New York. For over 25 years the firm has offered innovative solutions to businesses and individuals in the areas of asset protection business planning, civil litigation, creditor representation in the areas of foreclosure, bankruptcy and collections, elder law, family law, personal injury, tax, and trusts and estates. For more information, go to

This Article does not constitute legal advice nor create an attorney-client relationship.

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