Explanation of Expungement

New Jersey Expungement Lawyer

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Our NJ criminal defense law firm, the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, receives many calls each year from individuals interested in expunging a criminal record. One of the initial things an attorney with our law office does is explain exactly what “expungement” means and involves. Our office handles expungement applications throughout the state including Monmouth County, Union County, Essex County, Bergen County, Somerset County, Ocean County, Middlesex County, Mercer County, Hudson County and Burlington County. The following is the information we have provided so that prospective clients have an understanding of the terms “expunge,” “expunging” or “expungement” in New Jersey before speaking with an expungement lawyer at our firm.

Definition of expungement under New Jersey Expungement Law

The term “expungement” or “to expunge a record” basically means the extraction of records evidencing an arrest, detention, indictment, charge, complaint, trial, conviction, or disposition of a criminal offense. The records which may be expunged include documents evidencing an arrest such as fingerprints and mugshots, warrants, criminal complaints, criminal docket and case records, and rap sheets. The law essentially allows individuals to expunge all records maintained by any police department, a prosecutor (both county and municipal), jail, prison, correctional facility, criminal justice agency, or court. If an expungement is granted, the aforesaid records are placed in an isolated file which is segregated from records and are available to the public, employers and almost anyone else seeking discovery of this information.

Expungement Procedure or Process in NJ

The procedure for expunging a criminal record can be technical and involves filing various information. The process is summarized as follows:

  • State One: Gather Accurate Offense Information. Individuals often do their very best to wipe out the memory of an arrest, conviction and/or incarceration. It never is a good experience and we frequently find it difficult to obtain accurate information concerning the precise details of a criminal offense that are needed to file an expungement application. Accordingly, a full criminal record abstract typically has to be requested by one of our lawyers and it is common for us to have to follow-up with specific law enforcement agencies, courts and police departments to obtain records or reports to obtain the detailed information necessary to have a criminal record expunged. It is always helpful when a prospective client possesses this information such that lawyer time can be minimized in expunging an arrest or conviction.
  • Stage Two: Preparing and Filing the Expungement Petition. An expungement petition must include various pleadings or legal documents. The most important document is the verified petition for expungement. This document is basically a sworn statement which outlines: (1) the petitioner or applicant’s background information; (2) the date, location, and nature of each and every indictment, complaint or charge that has ever been filed against the petitioner; (3) the original indictment, complaint number, summons number, or other identifying information for each indictment, charge or complaint; (4) the date of conviction or disposition of each of the matters; and (5) details regarding the penalties and punishment imposed with reference to the matters. The petition must be filed with the Court, along with an Order setting the matter down for the hearing. The hearing date shall not be less than 35 days nor more the 60 days from the date of the filing. The documents must be served on the State Police, the Attorney General, the County Prosecutor wherein each and every incident occurred, the chief of police where each and every incident occurred, the warden of the detention facility (if the petitioner was incarcerated), and the municipal court. Our law office and its attorneys are experienced in getting records expunged and in preparing, filing and serving the expungement properly.
  • Stage Three: the Review Process. Once the petition is filed, law enforcement including, but limited to, prosecutors, police, and the attorney general’s office, review the application to make sure the information provided is complete and accurate for purposes of determining an individual’s eligibility for an expungement. The criteria or eligibility requirements in order to expunge a criminal incident is discussed on our Eligibility Requirements for NJ Expungement page. If there is an objection, it will be filed with the Court. If there is no objection, the application proceeds uncontested.
  • Stage Four: the Expungement Hearing. The matter is set down for a hearing if there is no objection and the court does not otherwise conclude on its own that the individual is ineligible to expunge. The determination of whether an individual is eligible for expungement is typically undertaken by the Court prior to the hearing and the hearing usually is just a formality for the Court to execute the formal order of expungement or order to expunge records. If there is an objection to expunging a criminal record, the Court will determine the merits of the objection and may even refuse to schedule the hearing if the objection is fatal to the petition.
  • State Five: Expungement and/or Expunging of Records. The order for expungement is to be served on all applicable police and law enforcement, courts, detention centers, and other individuals or entities maintaining records of criminal arrests, complaints, charges, indictments or convictions so that the records can be expunged. The records are to be removed from the files and computers held by the individuals and/or entities, and the person in charge of those records shall ensure that the information is not released for any reason and not utilized or referred to any person. The records are to be completely expunged. Please feel free to refer to our Records after Expungement page for an explanation of what happens to a criminal record after expungement.

If you or a loved one is interested in an expungement, please do not hesitate to contact a lawyer at our New Jersey law firm. One of the attorneys in our office can discuss the process in more detail and answer any questions which you may have regarding expungement or your eligibility. Initial consultations with our lawyers are always without charge so please do not hesitate to contact our law office.

The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall represents individuals on expungement of criminal records statewide including Ocean County, Middlesex County, Union County, Somerset County, Monmouth County, Mercer County, Burlington County, Essex County, Hudson County and Bergen County.