New Jersey Expungement Lawyer
Helping Clients File for Expungement of Arrests & Convictions in NJ
Don’t let a single mistake in your past destroy your entire future. Perhaps you pleaded guilty to a criminal offense several years ago because you wanted to accept responsibility for a decision you regretted. Or perhaps you were convicted by a judge or jury after contesting a criminal charge at trial. It’s possible that you were given probation, ordered to pay a fine, required to perform community service, had your driver’s license suspended, or maybe even sentenced to jail time. Regardless of the circumstances of your conviction, the unfortunate reality is that the consequences of your criminal charges did not end after you served your time, completed your probation, or performed your community service. That’s because you were likely left with a permanent criminal record in New Jersey. Not only is this information readily available to your prospective employers when you apply for a job, but it is also viewable by the public because we now live in an “online society.” This is the sort of thing that could make it extremely difficult for you to move on with your life because your conviction can end up defining you.
However, there is good news. It is important for anyone who has been convicted of a crime in New Jersey to understand that their “permanent” criminal record is not necessarily permanent. An experienced NJ criminal lawyer can help you file for an expungement so that your past criminal charges and/or conviction are no longer a part of your record.
Frank T. Luciano is a proven criminal records expungement attorney who has helped countless individuals successfully file for expungements in Bergen County, Passaic County, Hudson County, and everywhere else in New Jersey – and he can help you, too. Call (973) 471-0004 or email Mr. Luciano today to start the process of clearing your permanent record and give yourself a clean slate.
How Can a Criminal Record Negatively Affect Me in New Jersey?
A New Jersey criminal record can have far-reaching consequences that adversely affect you for the rest of your life. Whether you were convicted of a serious felony like illegal handgun possession or pleaded guilty to a disorderly persons offense like simple possession of marijuana, the arrest and conviction will probably appear on your record. A record showing that you were arrested and/or convicted could very well keep you from achieving your professional and financial goals in the future because employers will have access to this information via background checks and simple online searches. Not only can this make it difficult for you to obtain a new job, but it can also make it hard for you to maintain your current job if your boss or co-workers learn about your past.
The negative consequences of a criminal record go far beyond your job situation and finances. If you have an arrest or a conviction in your past and do not take steps to remove that information from your record, several other areas of your life could be negatively affected:
- Can’t Get Student Loans: A criminal record can seriously limit your options when it comes to securing federal loans if you choose to pursue higher education. That is because the federal government typically bars convicted felons from receiving loans for college or grad school.
- Can’t Teach or Work with Children: If you want to be a teacher in New Jersey, you cannot have a criminal record. This is because there are rules that bar convicted felons from working with children. Moreover, you could be prohibited from volunteering or working with children in any capacity because of your criminal record.
- Can’t Adopt a Child: Many families looking to adopt a child in New Jersey have learned that adoption agencies are reluctant to even consider an application when one of the prospective parents has an arrest or conviction on their record.
- Can’t Own a Handgun: New Jersey makes it almost impossible for an individual to secure a handgun license if the applicant has a criminal conviction on their record. Since all gun owners in NJ are required to obtain a New Jersey firearms identification card, your prior arrest or conviction could bar you from legally owning a firearm.
- Can’t Rent a Home: Many landlords run background checks on their prospective tenants. When your landlord sees that you have an arrest or conviction on your permanent record, they may view you negatively and find a reason not to rent to you.
- Embarrassment: The truth is that it can be embarrassing to have your past mistakes broadcast to the rest of the world. Your friends, family members, co-workers, neighbors, and anyone else in your life may learn about an arrest or conviction that occurred years ago – and this could cause your personal life to suffer.
What Exactly Is an Expungement?
When you get arrested and charged with a crime in New Jersey, the arrest will show up on your permanent record. Similarly, when you are convicted of a crime in NJ, or plead guilty to a crime in NJ, the conviction or guilty plea will also show up on your permanent record. However, the term “permanent record” is somewhat misleading – because your record can be altered under the right circumstances. New Jersey law offers a path for many people to have the history of their arrest or criminal conviction “expunged” from their record. So, what exactly does it mean to expunge a conviction?
One misconception about an expungement is that it will remove an arrest or conviction from the individual’s record. This is not technically true. When you file for, and are granted, an expungement in New Jersey, your criminal record will be blocked from view by most people. Although certain law enforcement and other government personnel might still be able to see that you were previously arrested or convicted of a crime, that information will be unavailable to the vast majority of people. Arrest records, mugshots, trial history, and any record of a criminal conviction or guilty plea will be removed from public view. The end result of an expungement is that the record of your arrest or conviction will be functionally erased – even if it isn’t technically erased. This means that your arrest will not be visible in most cases. Also, you will not need to disclose your expunged record on a job application.
How Do I File for an Expungement in New Jersey?
The process for expunging an arrest or conviction from your record can be extremely complicated and often involves a great deal of paperwork, with official documents needing to be filed and government agencies needing to be notified in order to complete the expungement.
Although it is possible to file for an expungement on your own, doing so without the assistance of a knowledgeable attorney is not advised.
It has been proven time and time again that working with a qualified lawyer significantly improves a petitioner’s chances of having their petition for expungement granted. The bottom line is that you do not want to take any chances of incorrectly filing paperwork, missing a deadline, or neglecting some other crucial step in the expungement process.
The best first step you can take when thinking about filing for an expungement in New Jersey is to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney who has experience handling expungements and who can assist you throughout the legal process.
When Can I File for an Expungement in NJ?
Your eligibility for an expungement will depend on the type of crime you were charged with, as well as the amount of time that has passed since you were convicted. If you were arrested but never convicted, you can seek an expungement immediately. However, if you were arrested and later convicted of the crime, you may have to wait a certain amount of time before petitioning to have the conviction expunged.
On October 1, 2018, a new law took effect in New Jersey that significantly reduced the waiting periods for an expungement. The law also raised the total number of criminal offenses, disorderly persons offenses, and petty disorderly persons offenses that a person can have expunged from their record.
These are the current waiting periods for expungement in NJ:
- Felonies: Indictable felonies tend to be more serious crimes that endanger others, so NJ courts typically require a convicted offender to wait six (6) years before petitioning for an expungement. However, it may be possible for a skilled attorney to get this waiting period reduced to five (5) years through what is known as an “early pathway” to expungement.
- Disorderly Persons Offenses: For a disorderly persons offense or petty disorderly persons offense, also known as a “misdemeanor,” you must wait five (5) years before seeking an expungement.
- Municipal Ordinances: A conviction or guilty plea on a local ordinance, such as a noise violation, comes with a waiting period of two (2) years before you can file for an expungement.
- Juvenile Offenses: Juvenile offenders must wait the same amount of time as adult offenders convicted of the same offense. This means that most juvenile offenses have a waiting period of five (5) years for expungement.
- Underage Drug Offenders: There are special laws for first-time drug offenders who were under the age of 21 when they committed the drug offense. Depending on the circumstances, it may be possible to file for expungement after just one (1) year.
It is important to note that certain crimes and offenses cannot be expunged in NJ. These include serious drug crimes like cocaine trafficking and heroin distribution, felony sex offenses like sexual assault and child endangerment, official misconduct by public officials, traffic violations and DUI offenses, and restraining orders. However, most minor crimes and disorderly persons offenses are eligible for expungement in New Jersey.
Contact Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Frank T. Luciano About Your NJ Expungement Today
You’ve probably grown and matured a great deal since your past legal issue. The “new you” should be reflected on your record. Once the court grants your expungement, it will be as though your arrest or conviction never happened. This can be a huge relief and allow you to live your life without worrying about being dragged down by a past mistake. An experienced NJ criminal defense attorney can help you file for an expungement and give you a fresh start.