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Can I Have My Record Expunged?

If you have made a mistake in your past, you likely don’t want that mistake to define or negatively impact the rest of your life. It may represent a difficult time in your life or be a reminder of the type of person you used to be; while you may never forget that time, you likely just want to move forward and focus on your future.

Unfortunately, this can be very difficult to do if a criminal record is holding you back. Being convicted of a criminal offense can have a serious impact on your reputation, your career and your family and as long as that offense appears on your record, it could be causing some damage. In some cases, thankfully, you may have the option to pursue expungement.

New Jersey Courts define expungement as “the removal and isolation of all records on file within any court, detention or correctional facility, law enforcement, criminal justice agency or juvenile justice agency concerning a person’s apprehension, arrest, detention, trial or disposition of an offense within the criminal or juvenile justice system.” Basically, this means that an expungement can clear an offense from your criminal record.

However, the laws regarding who may qualify for expungement and when are quite strict and complex. Depending on the offense for which a person has been convicted, he or she may have to wait anywhere from six months to 10 years to pursue an expungement.

Further, certain offense may never be expunged except in special circumstances. These offenses include aggravated criminal sexual contact, sexual assault, robbery, arson, perjury and homicide.

Determining when and if you may be eligible to have a record expunged can be confusing, as can the process of petitioning for an expungement. In order to understand your options and avoid costly mistakes, it can be wise to speak with an attorney who understands how crucial it can be to clear your record as well as how to go about pursuing this option.

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