Can You Clear Your Record Through Expungement?
Even after you have completed your sentence, you have a criminal record following you. This can cause you problems in many areas of your life, including employment, housing and education. The good news is that some people can clear their names through expungement. You must meet certain eligibility criteria, however, so you should speak with an attorney before you begin.
At The Law Office of Blair R. Zwillman, I can help you figure out if you could successfully expunge your criminal record. I have been practicing law since 1976 and am certified as a Criminal Trial Attorney by the Supreme Court of New Jersey. My firm serves clients in the Morristown area and throughout New Jersey.
What Does Expunging A Record Do?
If the court grants your request to expunge your record, it will seal or erase your past criminal conviction. The public will no longer be able to access your record, though law enforcement may, in most situations. You may legally tell people, such as a prospective employer or landlord, that you were never arrested, charged or accused of committing that crime when asked.
That said, some situations may still legally require you to disclose your record, such as applying for a professional license or running for office. In addition, the courts will have access to your record if the police charge you with another crime.
What Charges Are Eligible For Expungement?
Not every crime can be expunged from a criminal record. Factors that might affect your ability to have your record expunged include the following:
- The charge was minor and your first and only offense.
- The charges against you have been dismissed.
- You were acquitted or found not guilty.
- You were a juvenile at the time.
The law limits expungement to mainly low-level offenses, and rarely allows you to erase multiple convictions. In the past, you could not expunge your record of other offenses if you participated in a pretrial intervention program. That is no longer the case in New Jersey.
When Can You Expunge Your Record?
Different types of charges require different time frames that you must wait before you can file for an expungement. For example, you do not need to wait at all to expunge an arrest from your record that resulted in a dismissal. In the case of a drug possession charge, however, you must wait one year after you have satisfied all obligations of your sentence, including probation. As of 2019, many people in New Jersey can clear their entire record under the “clean slate law” if they do not commit another crime within 10 years of completing their sentence for a past crime.