Howes & Howes, Attorneys at Law

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Expungements:  Wiping the slate clean.

Many good people experience an arrest and/or a criminal conviction.  These skeletons from your past can sometimes get in the way of future opportunity.  New Jersey law provides a mechanism for people to wipe their slate clean of that once in a lifetime brush with the law.

1.  What is the legal mechanism for wiping the slate clean?

The legal mechanism is called an expungement of records.  The legal guidelines for an expungement are contained in Chapter 52 of the New Jersey Criminal Code.

2.  What is an expungement?

New Jersey law defines an expungement as 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.

3.  Who is eligible for an expungement?

Most one-time offenders are eligible if the legal waiting period after their conviction has elapsed.  Juvenile offenders are eligible if the legal waiting period after their adjudication has elapsed.  People who have had arrests that did not result in a conviction (i.e. people who have been granted conditional discharges; people who have completed Pre-Trial Intervention; and people who have been acquitted of the offense.)

4.  Are there certain offenses that can not be expunged?

The criminal code bars the expungement of the most serious offenses, such as murder, rape, robbery, arson, perjury or crimes committed by public officials touching on their office.  It is best that you consult an attorney to determine if expungement is available to you.

5.  What is the procedure to obtain an expungement?

First, the attorney files a petition with the court, which is served on any law enforcement agencies or court clerk who has a record of the arrest and/or conviction.  Second, if there are no objections from those agencies, then the court signs an expungement order.  Third, the attorney serves the order on all agencies who have a record of the arrest and/or conviction.

6.  What if there is an objection?

If there is an objection to the expungement request, then the court holds a hearing.

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