If you have been convicted of a crime and have completely served your sentence, part of moving on with life may include getting the conviction expunged. An expungement (also known as expunction) essentially means that the criminal record is sealed from the public. While employers, educational institutions or screening companies may not be able to discover this information, law enforcement agencies may have access to and maintain such records. Essentially, police and prosecutors have a public safety interest in maintaining access to criminal records.
In instances where a person has been acquitted or has had criminal charges dismissed, New Jersey law allows for records relating to the arrest and subsequent indictment to be sealed.
As we mentioned earlier, being able to put a criminal past (or at least a criminal incident) behind is important because of the stigma against ex-convicts that commonly prevents them from gaining employment. This is particularly common with people who have had previous drug possession convictions. As such, an expungement is critical in getting past a criminal past.
Under New Jersey law, there are several questions that must be answered before determining eligibility for expungement, including whether the actual crime is eligible for expungement, how many other criminal convictions have there been since the original crime, have all fines and penalties been paid, and whether the crime sought for expungement occurred in another state.
Obtaining an expungement is not an easy process, so it is advisable to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney so that you can understand what you are up against and the likelihood of success.