Your New Jersey criminal record probably affects many parts of your life. When you apply for a new job or a promotion, companies will check your criminal record. When you apply for college or student, your criminal record comes up again. Even when it comes to where you live, convictions on your record can limit your options.
Sealing your record after a criminal conviction doesn’t undo the charges against you. However, sealing or expunging your record does prevent private employers and other individuals from accessing state records about your arrest or conviction. Although the previous conviction could still impact future criminal charges, it shouldn’t impact your living circumstances, education or career.
How do you know if you qualify for an expungement in New Jersey?
Most people who need an expungement can qualify about five years after they complete their sentence and fulfill all other conviction-related requirements. An individual can seek to expunge one indictable conviction or up to three petty or standard disorderly person offenses.
There are other forms of expungement as well. People can have the records of an arrest that did not lead to charges expunged. They can also expunge drug charges and arrest records if they successfully complete drug court. Some people, especially those convicted of multiple indictable offenses, may find that traditional expungement doesn’t do enough to clear their records.
An expanded expungement program is also available
Many people who improve their lives after a conviction don’t qualify for traditional expungement under New Jersey law. The result is that a criminal offense from years ago could still limit someone’s future. People who have become contributing members of society after serving their sentence don’t deserve a lifetime of stigma and reduced options.
In 2019, New Jersey added a new form of expungement or record sealing. Under the “clean slate” expungement program, an individual who otherwise does not qualify for expungement but who has gone at least 10 years since their conviction without another criminal offense and ask the courts to seal their record.
Understanding how record sealing or expungement works in New Jersey is the first step toward moving on with your life after a criminal conviction.