Making just one mistake in the legal system can affect your life for many years. A criminal charge can lead to expensive fines, time served in jail, the inability to vote, and even a loss of your driver’s or professional license. Fortunately, New Jersey does allow some individuals to clear their record. Clearing, or expunging, your record, gives you the opportunity to hide your charges from certain individuals. This can help you gain employment or find housing, without having to inform others of your history.
Step 1: Understand Your Charges and Eligibility
Whether or not you can clear your record, and when, will depend on the specific charges you have. Some legal charges are eligible for clearing immediately, whereas others you might be required to wait a certain number of years. If you’re not sure if you’re eligible for an expungement, it might be useful to discuss your case with a lawyer. Some individuals, depending on the details of their case, may also be eligible for an early pathway expungement.
Step 2: Collect the Items You Need to build Your Case
Unfortunately, you can’t just reach out to the local court and ask that your record be cleared. First, you will need to prepare an expungement petition, which includes documents like the arrest records and your court papers. You might need to reach out to different offices in order to gather all of the necessary information to build your case.
Step 3: Build Your Expungement Case
In addition to your court records, your petition will also need to include certain forms, like an expungement order. Building your case will require the following forms in New Jersey:
- Copy of your legal records
- Petition for Expungement
- Verification page
- An early pathway expungement request, if requesting early clearing
- Certification in Further Support of Petitioner’s Expungement Application
- An Order for Hearing
A criminal defense lawyer can help you find and fill out the necessary forms to complete your application.
Step 4. Submit Your Application for Petition
Once you have filled out your Petition for Expungement in entirety, you will want to file it with the appropriate Criminal Case Management Office. Make multiple copies of the application in case one gets lost. Mail two copies to the listed address in your county, and keep one copy for your records.
Step 5: Wait for/Attend a Hearing Date
Once the court evaluates your petition application, they will mail you back one of the copies, noting that it has been filed. The Order for Hearing document will list the date and time of your hearing.
Make sure you attend the hearing date, if it is requested. Not all individuals will be required to attend, so it is important to understand the court’s request. If you are not required to attend, then you will mail in your green return receipt cards to the court ahead of time. If you are required to attend, then you will bring them with you to your court date.
Step 6: Serve Your Expungement Order
If you are given approval of your clearing, then you will want to mail out a copy of the order to the following individuals:
- Attorney General
- The superintendent of the State Police, Expungement Unit
- The prosecutor of the appropriate county
- The magistrate or court clerk of the appropriate court
- The chief of police of the city in which you were arrested and charged
- The warden of the jail in which you were jailed
Depending on the details of your case, you might also file with the Division of Criminal Justice and the county probation department.
Filing for and notifying all the necessary parties of an expungement can be a lengthy and overwhelming process. When you work with a criminal law lawyer who is familiar with New Jersey’s clearing laws, they will help you navigate your case. This ensures that you not only understand your eligibility, but also that your petition is filled out right.
Contact an Experienced Evesham Township Criminal Defense Attorney About Your Expungement Petition in New Jersey
Is a prior criminal record preventing you from living your life? A criminal defense charge can carry with it heavy fines, jail time, and driver’s license suspension! That is why it is imperative that you speak with a qualified criminal defense lawyer about your case. The lawyers at the Law Offices of Michele Finizio represent clients filing for expungement in Evesham Township, Mount Laurel, Willingboro, Pemberton, and throughout New Jersey. Call (609) 230-0374 or fill out our confidential online contact form to schedule a free consultation about your case. We have an office located at 9 E. Main St, Moorestown, NJ 08057.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.