In post September 11th times, we live a society that is increasingly concerned with safety and security. In fact, most people when questioned will reveal that their safety and security is the most important benefit that the Government and/or their job can provide. As a result of this heightened scrutiny of safety and security in the job place, many employers have instituted mandatory background checks for their employees and/or prospective employees. In addition, employees who have held a job for many years without a background check may now find that their employer is seeking mandatory background checks regardless of their tenure and/or time with the company. Moreover, in the highly competitive job market, employers often conduct background checks among their prospective candidates in order to determine their suitability. Fortunately, if there is an indiscretion within your past which has haunted you, there is a process that is available within the State of New Jersey that can help you erase that part of your past.

The process I am referring to is filing for a Petition for Expungement. The expungement process is provided for within the New Jersey Statutes and is available to all individuals who have committed any disorderly persons offense, as well as indictable offenses within the State of New Jersey. The expungement process is available to residents and/or non-residents of the State of New Jersey and an individual may expunge one or more petty disorderly persons offenses and/or indictable offenses from their criminal history. Obviously, there are limitations concerning the eligibility for expungements. In addition, certain offenses, such as murder and/or distributing a narcotic for sale, are not subject to expungement. Nonetheless, the expungement process is a valuable tool which can help many people erase and/or minimize a mistake they made in their past.

Prior to becoming eligible for an expungement, there are mandatory waiting periods after which time a party may be eligible for an expungement. For example, a person may seek an expungement ten (10) years after being discharged from probation or parole for an indictable offense. If a person is convicted a disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offense, there is a five (5) year eligibility waiting period after discharge from probation and/or payment of the fine in full. If a person is convicted of a Municipal Ordinance, there is a two (2) year waiting period from the time the person is discharged from probation and/or has paid the fine in full. In other instances, the waiting period for an expungement may be shorter. For instance, if a person is arrested and charged with a crime, and thereafter, the charges are dismissed this individual would be eligible for an immediate expungement. Moreover, if a person is accepted into and completes a diversionary program such as Pre-trial Intervention and/or a Conditional Discharge, the waiting period for an expungement would be six (6) months from the date of discharge from probation and/or a successful completion of the program. These time periods are delineated by Statute and may not be waived regardless of the circumstances for which the Petitioner is seeking an expungement. It is also important to note that a person may only seek an expungement once in their life. As such, when a party applies for an expungement should be sure that all events which they could get expunged are covered within the petition.

Once an expungement is granted it is as if the criminal charges, the arrest surrounding the charges, and the disposition of the charges never occurred. In fact, pursuant to the expungement statute if a party is ever questioned whether they have been arrested, convicted and/or charged with a crime, they are to respond that they have not. The expungement statute also states that should any party reveal that a person was granted an expungement that this person can be charged with a criminal offense.

There are times, however, when an expungement can be disclosed. If a person is applying for a job as a law enforcement officer or accepting a position of high security within the State or Federal Government, the fact that an expungement was granted can be revealed. Moreover, should a person be convicted of a subsequent offense, the Court can review the expunged record in considering sentencing the person for the present offense. Despite these limited circumstances, however, the effect of the expungement is to erase the event from an individual’s history as though it had never occurred. Once an expungement has been granted any criminal record search will yield no positive results.

In todays day and age there is almost no limit as to the negative effect that a positive criminal record search result could have on a person’s present and/or future career. Fortunately, the expungement process is available to help people to erase a mistake of their past so that it will not effect their future. The range of people that can benefit from an expungement varies from the most remedial of laborers to the highest ranking executives within Fortune 500 companies. Each one of these individuals could have their career devastated by a positive criminal record search result. As such, it is suggested that should an individual have doubts regarding whether an incident may appear on their criminal record, regardless of whether the incident resulted in a conviction, it is suggested that this party have a criminal record search performed. Should this search result yield a positive result, this party can consult with an attorney who may be able to prepare an Expungement Petition on their behalf. Although an Expungement Petition may be filed pro se, it is a technical process and must be done properly, otherwise it will be denied by the Court. At one point in our lives, most people have wished that they could go back in time and make a different decision under the circumstances they were faced with. Fortunately, the expungement statute within the State of New Jersey allows you to go back in time and erase that mistake as though it had never occurred.