We live in a time where information flows freely, quickly, and openly to both individuals and companies alike. As a result, the availability of a criminal record search, or other similar search concerning an individual is easily obtained. In fact, a search can often be performed without the consent or authority of the person who is being searched. For these reasons, employers now typically require a mandatory background checks prior to hiring. As a result, many employers will not hire a prospective employee should they possess a criminal record of any nature.
Fortunately, in the State of New Jersey there exists an excellent expungement statute which may help a person to erase a mistake from their past which could harm their present employment or their future employment. The expungement statute is fairly complex and contains numerous disqualifiers and conditions which must be satisfied in order to quality for an expungement. The following basic information, however, is useful. Under this statute, a party can have one indictable offense (felony) expunged after an initial waiting period of 10 years from the date of conviction or release from probation or parole. This statute was recently amended, however, to shorten the time period to approximately five years in appropriate situations. The possibility of having two indictable offenses expunged exists if the offenses occurred at the same time and were not separate incidents. The expungement statute also provides that a party could have one indictable offense and two disorderly person’s offenses (misdemeanors) expunged at the same time.
The statute further provides that a party can have a disorderly person’s (misdemeanor) offense expunged after a five year waiting period. This statute has recently been amended to permit an expungement of a disorderly person’s offense within three years. Further, the statute provides that up to three disorderly person’s offenses can be expunged at the same time. With regard to township ordinances, the statute has a two year waiting period from the date of conviction in order to have an expungement.
There are other sections of the expungement statute which provide for shorter periods of time, such as if a party is a youthful drug offender, which shortens the time period to get an expungement. Also, if a party completes a pre-trial diversion program the waiting period is only six months. The most important take away from this blog, however, is that once the expungement is granted that the offenses are deemed to have not occurred. This is extremely powerful, as the party may respond on any employment application or other application that the offenses never happened. Imagine that, a statute which permits you to lie. For these reasons, the expungement statute is powerful.
There are certain limitations to the expungement statute and there may be issues as to whether certain offenses are expungeable due to their nature, or if a party has too many convictions which may preclude expungement entirely. It should be noted, however, that the dismissal of offenses can always result in an expungement of both of the dismissal, and any records related to the charge.
If you are considering obtaining an expungement, it is suggested that you consult with an attorney to navigate through the expungement statute as it is fairly complex in nature. The attorneys at Stark & Stark can help you in this regard.