What Does An Expungement Do For Someone? How Does It Differ From Sealing A Record?
In New Jersey, expungement makes it seem as if a crime never happened. I’ve had seminars on expungement and own certain books that say, “As if it never happened.” If you get your crime expunged, and somebody asks whether you have ever been convicted of a crime, the answer is no. Once you get an expungement, it’s as if the crime never happened. You don’t have to reveal it on an application. You can tell them that you have never been convicted.
Now, if you want to be an FBI agent and are asked whether you’ve ever been arrested, with a regular expungement, you can say no. You can say that you have not been arrested. However, there are certain questions that say, “This includes matters that may have been expunged, sealed etc.” If you’re asked a direct question about that, I always advise my clients to answer it honestly. If you’re asked, “Have you ever had a matter expunged or have you had an arrest that ultimately got expunged,” the answer is yes, if you’re answering truthfully.
Expungement is a very valuable tool for people who make one or two mistakes in their life. They are able to get that wiped clean off their record. Anybody looking up a job, except for a higher level law enforcement, won’t know that the applicant, in another life, committed a crime.
If You Have A Record Expunged, That Doesn’t Mean That It’s A Full Scrub Of Any Record On The Internet. People Sometimes Get Confused Or Surprised That Their Record Can Still Be Pulled Online.
If a record is expunged, there are certain places where it may be possible to see some sort of record. However, the source where it comes from will indicate that you have no record. A record may still be available to certain places, but the places on the internet get it from the source. Once the source knows that your conviction doesn’t exist, it should clear up on the internet as well.
Getting a record expunged is a tedious process. It takes a minimum of three months to get something expunged. Sometimes, it takes as long as six months because different agencies have to be notified that you’re trying to expunge your record. They’re allowed to object to your record expungement if there’s a good reason they don’t think it should happen.
Who Is Eligible To File For An Expungement In New Jersey?
In New Jersey, there are certain rules about how you qualify for an expungement. It used to be ten years from the end of your probation or last payment. They switched that rule to five years. You have to show certain characteristic, such as there is no further crimes, you have an honest job, you’re living in a right way, and all kinds of other things. Then, you can move it down to five years. The first factor is that you have to have five years and an eligible crime. As mentioned, there are about ten different crimes that are ineligible for expungement, like sexual assault and child pornography.
People on Megan’s law, which is a sex crimes offender law in New Jersey, are not able to get their records expunged. Murders, kidnappings, some shootings, and aggravated assaults, are not eligible as well. You have to an eligible crime and the right amount of time must have passed since getting off of probation, not since committing the crime. For example, if you got convicted of a crime in 1990 and you’re on probation for five years, until 1995, you’d have to wait another five years after that to be able to apply for an expungement. Therefore, it will depend on the length of time, the type of crime, and the number of other convictions you may have in different places.
Does An Expungement Include Any Arrest Record Or Is It Just For Convictions?
An expungement also includes the arrest record. Sometimes, we get the arrest expunged. For instance, suppose we get a drug crime dismissed on the municipal level, if that happens, we apply right on the spot to have the arrest erased. If you have an arrest but no conviction for, a lot of people see the charge and assume you’re guilty. That’s why we try to get the arrest expunged automatically.
Do I Really Need A Lawyer To Help Me Expunge My Conviction In New Jersey?
The process of expunging a record moves much smoother with the assistance of a lawyer. You can do the process yourself. You can try, but it’s a very involved application. You have to know who to send the certified letters to. That includes the state police, the police of the jurisdiction, and the prosecutor’s office in the county. You have to send them certain notices. You also have to get return responses for all of them before you can move forward with an expungement.
There are other things you have to include that a layperson would not know. While the court or county allows you to try and do it yourself, most people are not equipped to do that. They ask for certain things, including the number of your complaint. Unless you keep very good records, which most people don’t, it may not be easy to find what you need. It’s not mandatory to have a lawyer, but I recommend hiring one.
Can I Have More Than One Conviction Expunged In New Jersey?
You can have more than one conviction expunged in New Jersey. There are certain laws that show what you can have expunged. I believe the limit is two indictables or a combination of one indictable and two municipal courts, but you can’t have more than that expunged. If you have more than that, only the amount that’s eligible will be expunged. As such, your record will not be clear. You’ll just have less convictions.
Why Might An Expungement Be Challenged Or Opposed? What Do You Do If It Gets Challenged?
An expungement might be challenged or opposed if somebody was currently under investigation. For instance, maybe officials are doing a long-term investigation against the person. In that case, they might object to having the record expunged. Another reason to oppose an expungement is if someone says that they are living the right way while the police may know different. In their search, the state police may have discovered a DUI in the past two years. That could be a basis to object. Although New Jersey doesn’t consider a DUI a crime, it is quasi criminal and perhaps for that reason, they might want to object.
Normally, it’s a procedural objection. The person applying for the expungement may not have waited the right amount of time or their probation lasted longer than realized. Officials may object for a number of reasons, but it’s not because they don’t like the person or they’re out to get them. There is reasoning behind why they would be objecting.
How Long Do You Have To Wait Until You Can Actually Apply For An Expungement?
A person can apply for an expungement five years from the date of their last contact, which can be parole or probation. Sometimes, it’s when the last payment was made. There are certain things that will stop a person from being able to apply, but it’s generally five years after they’re done with parole or probation.
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