Under N.J.S. 2C:52-1 et seq., all records on file with any court, correctional facility, law enforcement or criminal justice agency regarding a person’s detection, apprehension, arrest, detention, trial, or disposition of an offense within the criminal justice system may be extracted and isolated. In effect, a person’s criminal record of arrest and/or conviction is erased and legally deemed not to have occurred.
The records which are actually expunged include complaints, warrants, arrests, commitments, processing records, fingerprints, photographs, index cards, “rap sheets”, and judicial docket records.
Expungement eligibility is a highly technical area where one should ask a qualified attorney to do a personalized determination. Generally, a person may have more than one criminal conviction expunged if ten (10) years of clean history have passed since the completion of one's sentence. A single criminal conviction of an indictable offense or multiple disorderly persons offenses (and petty disorderly persons offenses) may be expunged after five (5) years. Municipal Ordinance offenses may be expunged after two (2) years. An arrest not resulting in a conviction may generally be expunged without delay. There are limits as to the number of matters that may be expunged, and there are offenses that may not be expunged. There are also other various statutory limitations regarding expungements, which are too technical to list.
Yes. Because an expungement removes the conviction/criminal record and deems it not to have occurred, the expungement has the effect of removing the disqualification placed upon a convicted person from purchasing or possessing firearms under the firearm licensing law of N.J.S. 2C:58-3(c) and under the firearm possessory law of N.J.S. 2C:39-7.
People with records are impacted not just by how their record limits their rights and freedoms, but also the stigma, embarrassment, and shame related to their past. They are afraid that the expungement process will require them to explain themselves then, relive those stories, justify what happened, or be forced to prove they are worthy now. They should be aware that the standard expungement process is procedural and does not require any explanation, justification, measurement, or worthiness, only a clinical assessment of the eligibility of the records as they exist. The system is designed to alleviate stigma from eligible petitioners and return them to normal productive lives. You will not be judged as a person, only your record will be evaluated for statutory eligibility. Navigating the system, however, is a highly technical exercise that can result in delays and denials if you don't know what you're doing.
In most cases an expungement will not require you to take off time from work and appear in court. An expungement is filing where the attorney argues on your behalf and resolves any objections raised by the State and where most matters are decided "on the papers" without need for an in-person hearing. In the unlikely event of a hearing, most expungements are done remotely and conveniently through video conferencing. Aside from some preliminary paperwork provided to the attorney by the petitioner, everything else is performed by the attorney in almost all cases. An expungement is a legal service you can pay for and let an experienced professional complete for you, and occupies very little of your time.
This is a common question. Unfortunately, due to the COVID backlog in the courts, time estimations cannot reliably be made. It is up to the court’s calendar and their processing of expungements which varies greatly from court to court.
Expungements of Mental Health Records
Under N.J.S. 30:4-80.11., if an order expunging a mental health commitment is granted, the commitment shall be deemed not to have occurred and the recipient of the expungement may answer accordingly any question related to the commitment. In effect, a person’s mental health commitment record is erased and legally deemed not to have occurred.
Expungement eligibility is a highly technical area in which one should ask a qualified attorney regarding one’s specific facts situation. Generally speaking, under N.J.S. 30:4-80.8, a person may have a mental health expungement if they have been committed by order of any court or by voluntary commitment to any institution or facility providing mental health services. A person who has been discharged as recovered or substantially improved or substantially in remission may apply to the Superior Court for relief.
Yes. Because an expungement removes the commitment and the commitment is deemed not to have occurred, the expungement has the effect of removing the disqualification placed upon a person from purchasing or possessing firearms under the firearm licensing law of N.J.S. 2C:58-3(c) and under the firearm possessory law of N.J.S. 2C:39-7.
A State expungement also removes the Federal disqualification for convicted felons purchasing or possessing firearms. At one time, an individual needed a Federal relief from disabilities even though they had a State expungement. Under the 1986 Gun Owners Protection Act, this was changed so that the Federal government recognizes State expungement. This expressed recognition may be found under U.S.C.A. Title 18, 921 (a)(20).
Firearms Expungements & Record Sealing
Expungement of an otherwise qualifying offense also removes a person from being subjected to the Lautenberg Domestic Violence Misdemeanor Gun Ban.
Expungement has now taken on an even greater significance with the advent of NICS (National Instant Check System). Expungement may clear certain criminal records which could have otherwise formed a basis for NICS denial. For more information on firearms expungements & record sealing call (732) 389-8888.