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How long do you need to wait to seal a criminal record?

On Behalf of | Feb 20, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Maybe you pleaded guilty to a minor criminal offense because you were young and had no advice to steer you in a different direction. Perhaps you tried to defend yourself in court but were unsuccessful. You now have a criminal record, and you know that it holds you back from new job opportunities, the best housing and even college enrollments or financial aid.

Unfortunately, that mistake that you made years ago keeps coming back to haunt you whenever you submit an application that could improve your life. Landlords, employers and educational institutions tend to check criminal backgrounds and will consider someone’s history along with other factors when making major decisions.

New Jersey allows some people to expunge criminal convictions

State law in New Jersey does allow certain individuals and opportunity to seal or expunge their criminal records. When successful, expungement prevents the state from continuing to report certain information to the public.

An expungement of a criminal conviction would mean that state background checks would not show your previous criminal record blemish going forward. To qualify for an expungement, a person hoping to move on with their life typically needs to wait at least five years from the date of their conviction. They also have to avoid other major criminal infractions in the meantime.

Generally, someone seeking an expungement can only have one indictable criminal offense on their record expunged, but the state could also remove up to two disorderly persons convictions. To expunge an indictable offense, an applicant has to wait ten years from the end of their period of supervision.

There are also several kinds of offenses for which expungement is not an option. The state will not seal records related to kidnapping, luring/enticing, aggravated sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual contact, criminal sexual contact with a minor, criminal homicide, false swearing or perjury, for example.

Don’t repeat the mistake you may have made before

Many people who automatically enter a guilty plea or who lose their case in criminal court have such unfavorable outcomes in part because they do not retain professional legal support. Many people seeking to seal their criminal records through New Jersey’s expungement laws could delay the outcome they require if they misstep. Small mistakes in the process can lead to delays and unfavorable outcomes.

Learning more about criminal laws in New Jersey, including expungement law, is easier when you have a professional explaining your options to you.