Everyone has had a bad day, some have had many. This doesn’t make them a bad person, or in any way irredeemable. People deserve a second chance; unfortunately a criminal record can limit those horizons. Whether it’s applying for a job or attempting to rent an apartment, the hurdles of having a criminal record can be difficult to get over.
The best way to keep your future open is by clearing the criminal record with a petition for expungement. You can file one to clear both juvenile and adult records in case you grew out of your bad behavior and don't want it to affect your future.
New Jersey’s expungement laws are complex and not every petition will be considered. There are some crimes such as perjury and criminal homicide that are automatically disallowed. Charges of CDS (Controlled Dangerous Substance) possession or intent to sell charges are only expungable if it is less than 25 grams of marijuana or less than five grams of hashish. Other factors are weighed such as whether there was a pretrial intervention or a conditional discharge. An important piece of deciding whether or not expungement is right for you is how many arrests or convictions are in your past. With every additional factor the laws surrounding the expungement get more confusing, and that’s why it's recommended to seek the counsel of an experienced attorney.
Depending on the level of infraction there’s a period of time before a petition can be submitted. For example if the only thing on your record is a charge for ‘disorderly person’s offense,’ there would be a waiting period of five years before the expungement can be filed. There is 'Early Pathway Expungement' that would shorten the time required before you are able to file, but it is also dependent on specific circumstances.
If the charges were dismissed or there was a verdict of not guilty, many believe that the record will be clean but this is a misconception. If your name is searched by someone looking for your records, the arrest will still appear. The good news is there is no waiting time for filing a petition if the charges had been dismissed.
The expungement acts as less of a destroying of the record and more of a locking it away in a separate cabinet. There are certain instances it can be accessed. Reasons would include applying for a job in law enforcement, or in a school those employers have the right to access expunged records.
Expungement laws change frequently, another reason having an attorney who stays up to date on those changes can make such a difference for you. On January 10th 2016, Chris Christie signed into effect a bill with a few big changes to the process. The largest of which was that those who graduate from Drug Court are immediately allowed to petition for an expungement.
With the changes, and the complicated nature of expungement procedures finding an experienced attorney is usually a big help. When your future home or career is potentially on the line you want the best representation possible, you can't do better than the Simon Law Group.