ERASE/ EXPUNGEMENT OF ARRESTS AND CONVICTIONS TO AVOID EMBARRASSMENT AND DISCLOSURE
by KENNETH A. VERCAMMEN, ESQ.
If someone has been arrested or even had a private criminal complaint signed against them in the Municipal Court, they have a criminal record, even if the charges were dismissed. This is an excellent law to help non-violent offenders. Don’t be denied a job, credit or barred from coaching based on an old criminal charge.
Under NJSA 2C:52-1 et seq. past criminal arrests and convictions can be expunged/ erased under certain instances. We always recommend individuals hire an attorney to obtain an expungement. The process for all expungements are held in the Superior Court. It takes a minimum of three months for the court to grant the expungement. The requirements are very formal. There can be a waiting period between 6 months up to 10 years after the criminal cases is finished. More info at http://www.njlaws.com/expungement.html
1. Obtain a certified disposition from the Court
If the case was heard in Municipal Court, we recommend you obtain a "certified disposition" of the court's decision, from the Court itself. This is expedite the process. In Superior Court, obtain Order of Dismissal or Order of Conviction. Court costs and Legal fees for expungement range from $1,500- $2,500.
Thousands of citizens over the past 30 years have been arrested for criminal, disorderly, and municipal ordinance offenses. The courts and police must keep a record of all arrests and convictions, even if 30 years old. Judgements of Conviction are public records. These "secrets of the past" could be open to anyone including credit agencies. Under one proposal, for a $15.00 fee, someone could ask the state police for a person's criminal record, even arrests with not guilty findings. Allowing access to a person's old criminal conviction or arrest record could open the door for discrimination or job loss against someone who now is a productive, respected, and law abiding citizen. Many employers often do a criminal background check on new and promoted employees.
Fortunately, if you are a law abiding citizen, you can now have old arrests or most convictions erased from public records and police folders. Under NJSA 2C:52-1 et seq. past criminal arrests and convictions can be expunged/ erased under certain instances.
2. Waiting periods
If you were convicted or pleaded guilty to a disorderly person offense (misdemeanor type) more than 5 years ago, and have not been convicted of anything since, you can have your attorney petition to the Superior Court for an Expungement (Erase and removal) of your criminal record. The waiting period starts from the full payment of fines, completion of probation or other requirements, whichever finishes latest.
If you plead guilty to a town ordinance (ex. - Seaside Heights Drinking in Public) you can petition for an Expungement after waiting two years. A Juvenile delinquent/guilty finding for a minor can also be expunged/erased under similar circumstances. In addition, minor drug arrests which resulted in first offender conditional discharge can be erased after 6 months has passed since termination of probation or conclusion of court proceedings.
Most importantly, arrests on frivolous complaints which did not result in a conviction or if charges were dismissed, can be expunged, without waiting.
The waiting period on an indictable charge [guilty plea in Superior Court] is 10 years. [There is a new hardship provision to apply for expungement 5 years after probation is up. Speak with an experienced attorney]
The Chart below is helpful:
Expungement eligibility NJ
Type of Offense
1 conviction, plus up to 2 Disorderly Persons convictions
10/ years from date supervision completed [or 5 year eagle scout rule]
Disorderly Persons Offenses (includes Petty DO Offenses)
Up to 2 offenses, provided no other criminal convictions
5 years from court date & fines paid [or 3 year eagle scout rule]
Municipal Ordinance Violations
ex: Seaside Park fighting etc
No limit, provided no criminal record and no more than 2 Disorderly Persons convictions
2 years from court date & fines paid
Juvenile Delinquency Offenses
All records, except those that are of the 17 ineligible offenses committed by an adult
5 years from date supervision completed
Young Drug Offender Records
No limit if for possession or use of CDS
1 year from date supervision completed
Arrests - No Conviction, charge dismissed 2C:52-6
No waiting period
For PTI, Conditional Discharge or Conditional Dismissal - 6 months from completion of program 2C:52-6 (c)
More info at http://criminal-law.freeadvice.com
3. Common criminal offenses to get expunged
The following criminal offenses are some of the typical
offenses individuals can petition for expungement:
Alcohol Underage 2C:33-15
Bad Check 2C:21-5
Criminal Mischief 2C:17-3
Criminal Trespass 2C:18-3
Disorderly Conduct 2C:33-2
Drug Paraphernalia 2C:36-1
False / Fraud Instrument 2C:21-3
Hindering Apprehension 2C:29-3
Lewdness / Criminal Contact 2C:14-4
Obstructing Admin. of Law 2C:29-1
Possession Drugs 2C:35-10
Prohibited Weapons 2C:39-3
Receiving Stolen Property 2C:20-7
Resisting Arrest 2C:29-2
Terroristic Threats 2C:12-3
Theft by Deception 2C:20-4
Theft of Services 2C:20-8
Theft Unlawful Taking 2C:20-3
Weapon Unlawful Purpose 2C:39-4
4. Convictions which never can be expunged:
-Most possession with intent to distribute drugs
-DWI and all other traffic offenses
-Family Court restraining orders
1 Criminal Homicide (Except Death by Auto);
3 Luring or Enticing;
4 Aggravated Sexual Assault;
5 Aggravated Criminal Sexual Contact;
6 Criminal Sexual Contact (if victim is a minor);
7 Criminal Restraint;
8 Robbery ;
9 Endangering the Welfare of a Child (if based on sexual contact);
11 False Swearing or perjury;
12 Human Trafficking;
13 Causing or Permitting a Child to Engage in a Prohibited Sexual Act;
14 Selling or Manufacturing Child Pornography;
15 Knowingly Promoting the Prostitution of the Actor's Child;
16 Terrorism; and
17 Producing or Possessing Chemical Weapons, Biological Agents or Nuclear or Radiological Devices.
See "2C:52-2"c.In the case of conviction for the sale or distribution of a controlled dangerous substance or possession thereof with intent to sell, expungement shall be denied except where the crimes involve:
(1)Marijuana, where the total quantity sold, distributed or possessed with intent to sell was 25 grams or less;
(2)Hashish, where the total quantity sold, distributed or possessed with intent to sell was five grams or less; or
(3)Any controlled dangerous substance provided that the conviction is of the third or fourth degree, where the court finds that expungement is consistent with the public interest, giving due consideration to the nature of the offense and the petitioner's character and conduct since conviction.
5. WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE FOR THE EXPUNGEMENT PETITION
You should contact an attorney experienced with handling expungements. The Expungement Petition is filed in the county where the offense took place, not where the defendant lives. The petition is filed not in the Municipal Court but in the Superior Court. Once filed, the Superior Court will set a hearing within 35-60 days. Your attorney will prepare an Expungement Petition which under state law must contain substantial background information, including:
a. Date of Birth and Social Security #
b. Date of Arrest
c. Statute Arrested For and Statute Convicted
d. Original Indictment, Summons, or Complaint Number
e. Petitioner's Date of Conviction or Date of Disposition
f. Court's Disposition of the Matter and Punishment Adopted, if Any
In addition, the Expungement Petition must have an affidavit that states that there are no charges pending and that the petitioner never previously received a prior expungement.
As required under the statute, the attorney for the applicant must serve a copy of the Petition Order for hearing and supporting documents on the following people: 1.) Superintendent of State Police 2.) Attorney General 3.) County Prosecutor of the county where the court is located 4.) The Chief of Police where the event took place 5.) The chief law enforcement officer of any other law enforcement agency which participated in the arrest 6.) The warden of any institution where the petitioner was confined 7.) the Municipal Court if the disposition was made by a municipal court, 8 County Sheriff
If you satisfy all other statutory requirements and there is no objection by the entities notified, the court will usually grant an order directing the Clerk of the Court and all relevant criminal justice and law enforcement agencies to expunge (remove) records of said disposition including evidence of arrest, detention, conviction, and proceedings.
There are additional pleadings which the applicant's attorney must prepare and file. If you have an old offense, it is important that you have the arrest expunged to keep your name and record clean. All criminal charges, even if dismissed, stay on your record forever, unless the expungement order is granted by a Superior Court Judge.
6. Expungement Services to Apply to Remove/Erase Criminal Arrests and Convictions/ Retainer for Legal Services
Fee $1,900 if traditional expungement
If Eagle Scout expungement where time period shorter, fees additional
Credit card or Check payable to Vercammen PC.
[Fee is less if we handled case previously]
Also you need to provide a separate check or money order for court fees:
-Check for $75.00 payable, Treasurer, State of NJ
-Check payable Postmaster Edison $70.00 for certified mail
These fees cannot be paid by credit card.
7. What the Attorney will do:
-Telephone consultation with client;
-Office consultation with client if requested;
-Opening of file and client may have free client case folder, Municipal Court brochure, MVC Points brochure, and Website brochure;
-Review documents supplied by client and court;
-Review of necessary statutes and case law;
-Preparation of VERIFIED PETITION FOR EXPUNGEMENT OF RECORD PURSUANT TO N.J.S.A. 2C:52-6(a)
-Preparation of CERTIFICATION STATEMENT TO ACCOMPANY PETITION
- Preparation of ORDER FOR HEARING FOR EXPUNGEMENT PURSUANT to N.J.S.A. 2C:52-6(a)
- Preparation of proposed ORDER FOR EXPUNGEMENT
Prepare letter to Client with Petition, Statement to Accompany Petition of no pending charges, Order for Hearing, Proposed Order for Expungement
Client signs Petition Statement to Accompany Petition of no pending charges
Attorney calls Superior Court and confirm address for Expungement Unit.
We Mail to Superior Court Expungement Unit-
Orig. and one Petition
Statement to Accompany Petition
Order for Hearing
Proposed Order for Expungement
2 self-addressed stamped envelopes
Follow up Court Order for hearing (takes approx 30 days)
Upon receipt of signed Order for hearing, Prepare Certified Mail Green cards for documents to be served on law enforcement and court. -
-Preparation of letter with Order for hearing and proposed Order for Expungement to NJ Attorney General
Department of Law & Public Safety
Expungement Section- PO Box 080
Trenton, NJ 08625
- Preparation of letter with Order for hearing and proposed Order for Expungement to NJ Superintendent of State Police
River Road, PO Box 7068
West Trenton, NJ 08628
- Preparation of letter with Order for hearing and proposed Order for Expungement to County Prosecutor;
- Preparation of letter with Order for hearing and proposed Order for Expungement to Chief of Police;
- Preparation of letter to client with Order for hearing and proposed Order for Expungement to Municipal Court Administrator;
When all the green cert. mail cards come in we put date mailed to Law Enforcement. on form 6 (Cert.) and mail to Court . After receipt of all certified mail Green cards, Preparation of CERTIFICATION OF SERVICE OF ORDER FOR HEARING
We make copies of cert. mail green cards and letter before mailing out original green cards to court.
Misc phone calls to and from client
-Call Superior Court Expungement Unit to confirm they received green cards and no need to appear on hearing date if no objection.
If Expungement granted and receipt of signed Order for Expungement,
Preparation of letter with signed Order for Expungement to:
-NJ Attorney General by regular mail
Department of Law & Public Safety
- Preparation of letter with signed Order for Expungement to
NJ Superintendent of State Police
- Preparation of letter with signed Order for Expungement to County Prosecutor;
- Preparation of letter with signed Order for Expungement to Chief of Police;
- Preparation of letter with signed Order for Expungement to Municipal Court Administrator; and any other public entity requested by the court. Please note a Judicial Expungement granted by the Superior Court Judge does not change databases set up by private entities or credit agencies.
Preparation of End of Case Letter to client with original signed Order for Expungement and client questionnaire.
Please note we do not open a file and do not handle the case until all fees are paid in full up front.
Any other work not listed above will require additional fees or costs.
The client must provide disposition or copies of complaint for all prior Municipal court criminal charges, even criminal charges you were not arrested or fingerprinted. This is required by the Superior Court. All charges since you were 18 years old must be listed.
8. Obtaining a criminal History
You may want to order a criminal history CCH on yourself when the expungement is started if you are not 100% sure of your prior charges in NJ and the USA. The fee to obtain your criminal history is less than $75. For a Criminal History Contact www.bioapplicant.com/nj or call Morpho Trak at 1-877-503-5981. The law office cannot obtain a criminal history. Our Private investigator can do obtain a criminal history for you for an extra $900.
If the expungement is granted we recommend to all clients to send a follow up letter and copy of Order for Expungement by Certified Mail to all above Courts and Law Enforcement so they have a copy for their records. The Law Office can handle this for additional fee of $250. You should also serve a copy on the credit reporting agencies.
If the Court grants the expungement petition, the NJ police departments and NJ courts will be required to remove information from their records. The Court order does not pertain to online private companies or websites, which may contain old information. The Federal Government and immigration still has access to expunged /erased records.
If there are objections to the Expungement Petition by the Prosecutor or other entities and a hearing is required, additional fees will apply. They fee you paid does not include appeals if the court denies your petition.
9 To Start the process- Interview Form
Please fill out blank lines on your computer or by hand and email or return to office to start Expungement, and provide check or credit card info. You need to provide us with the Certified disposition if your prior offense was in Municipal Court. The Certified disposition should be provided to the Superior Court. To obtain the certified disposition, simply contact the Municipal Court. They will charge a fee of approx $10.00.
If you are unable or unwilling to do this, our fee to drive to the court to obtain the Certified disposition is an additional $300.
If your prior charge was in Superior Court, provide the Order of Dismissal if dismissed, or Judgment of Conviction JOC if a guilty plea.
If PTI Pre-trial intervention, provide copy of Order of Dismissal.
The court-filing fee is requires a separate check. $75.00 payable, Treasurer, State of NJ
Check payable Postmaster Edison $70.00 for certified mail
1. Petitioner's name is _____________.
any other name used___________________.
Current address ___________________________________
CITY _____________________________ STATE _______ ZIP __________
CELL-PHONE ___________________________________ (Area Code Needed)
OTHER PHONE-DAY __________________________
E-MAIL ADDRESS ______________________________________________
REFERRED BY: _______________________________________________
2. Petitioner's date of birth is _______, Social Security Number is ________
3. Petitioner was charged on ________________ for violation of the following:
N.J.S.A. 2C: ______________
type of offense _________________
Summons/ Warrant/ Complaint # ____________________
[Leave out traffic tickets ex 39:4-49.1. Traffic tickets cannot be expunged]
The original complaint number was ___________
4. This matter was in ___________ County .
5. This matter was heard in the ______________ Municipal Court on __________
6. On ______, I plead guilty of the following offense: ________________________.
I was fined _____, costs of ______ and ______.
on ________________, charges were dismissed
7. The following are all other charges against me since I was 18 year old, even if the charge was dismissed: [IF NONE, WRITE NONE]
Petitioner was charged on ________________ for violation of the following:
N.J.S.A. 2C: ______________
type of offense _________________
Summons/ Warrant/ Complaint # ____________________
Other prior offenses:
This matter was in ___________ County , town ______________
Disposition/ result ___________________________________
[If none, write none]
The client must provide a written disposition to the court for all prior criminal charges, even criminal charges you were not arrested or fingerprinted. This is required by the Superior Court. All charges since you were 18 years old. The Law Office can obtain the a Certified Disposition for Municipal Court cases, or a Judgment of Conviction for Superior Court charges at a fee of $400 per court. It is usually more cost effective for the client to obtain the court records themselves.
Email interview form back to Vercammenlaw@njlaws.com
Details on expungement at http://www.njlaws.com/expungement.html