New Jersey Court Records
Sealing and Expunging Criminal Records in New Jersey
New Jersey state statutes allow selected criminal history information of state residents to be sealed or expunged. Sealing or expungement relieves the involved party of all accountability to a criminal past. The following persons can request to seal or expunge criminal records in New Jersey:
- The persons listed in the record
- The victims of the crime recorded in the document
The Difference Between Sealing and Expunging Criminal Records New Jersey
The term ‘expungement’ is the blanket expression for the act of removing records from public view. Sealing is also an expungement process in New Jersey. There are no laws that restrict criminal records in the state. It means that all criminal records that are publicly accessible can be viewed and copied by anyone or agency.
Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching more straightforward, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:
- The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
- The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that the person resides in or was accused in
Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.
How to Seal a Criminal Record in New Jersey
There are at least seven categories of expungement processes in New Jersey. They are stated below, along with their eligibility requirements:
- Persons with a certificate of rehabilitation: the Rehabilitated Convicted Offenders Act states that persons who receive a certificate of rehabilitation from the court of current jurisdiction can file a petition to have their records expunged. It applies if the individual does not have over one conviction. Also, persons convicted of serious offenses such as felonies are not eligible.
- Juvenile adjudication: juvenile delinquents can apply to have their records expunged after a three-year waiting period. The law has not convicted them of another crime or is under supervision, or has pending investigations. Besides this list:
- The adjudication must not be because of an act that makes up a crime when committed by an adult.
- There is no previous expungement of an adult conviction.
- There are no prior adult criminal charges dismissed after the court’s supervisory treatment or diversion programs.
- Non-conviction records: the law states that non-conviction records such as arrests or charges that did not result in any conviction must undergo automatic expungement. It does not include dismissals arising from a plea bargain or a mental disability. There is no limit to how many non-conviction records can undergo expungement for an affected individual.
- Victims of human trafficking: anyone who receives a conviction for prostitution can file for the vacation of the conviction and apply for the expungement of the record simultaneously. This rule applies only if the case of prostitution was because of human trafficking.
- Drug Court Special Probation: anyone under the supervision of a Drug Court Special Probation Program in New Jersey can apply for the expungement of records. There must not be a standing conviction after the probation program. If there is, all previous expungement will be reversed and moved within the zone of public disclosure.
- Clean slate (automatic expungement): The state’s laws direct that anyone who has completed a conviction sentence can apply ten years after completion, provided there is no recent investigation or conviction. Felonies and severe drug offenses do not qualify for a clean slate expungement in New Jersey.
- Expungement by petitions: There are several factors that the court considers before deciding to grant a petition for expungement for cases in this category. They include the number of offenses and the nature of convictions. Here, only one expungement is possible in a lifetime. However, the petitioner can seek to expunge up to four separate convictions at a time, with only one being an indictable offense. While some crimes are not eligible for expunction even after ten years of completing sentence, a pardon can render such an offense eligible for expungement. Offenses that amount to disorderliness can receive up to three expunctions in a lifetime unless they are the same type or charged on the same day. The expunction waiting period for disorderly offenses is five years from the satisfactory completion of probation, release from incarceration, payment of fine or latest conviction, whichever is later. The same rule applies to youthful drug offenses, marijuana and hashish offenses, and municipal ordinance violations.
What Crimes Can Be Expunged in New Jersey?
A significant number of offenses qualify for expungement in New Jersey by law. Below is the list of exceptions:
- Sex crimes
- Sex crimes involving children
- Aggravated criminal or sexual assault
- Enticing or luring
- Criminal homicide
Exceptions to these are cases of pardon or prostitution arising from human trafficking.
How to Expunge Criminal Records in New Jersey
Preparing to file for an expungement of a criminal record involves mandatory preliminary steps. Have the following information ready:
- The date of arrest as an adult or a juvenile when taken into custody.
- The offense that caused the arrest and the relevant statutes governing it.
- The original indictment, charges, summons, docket numbers, warrant numbers, or complaint ID.
- The date of disposition, meaning the date of conviction or adjudication or dismissal.
- The details of the penalty or other court disposition
The next step is to locate the records. Check with the representing attorney to confirm if they have all information in the case file. It helps to save time. Otherwise, contact the Superior Court Criminal Case Management Office of the county where the arrest or conviction happened. For juvenile delinquency cases, contact the Superior Family Division Office of the relevant county. If there were charges, reach out to the law enforcement agency of relevance for the records. The same applies to the county prosecutor. Documentations of disorderly offenses are usually available with the Administrator of the Municipal Court, the prosecution, or at the police department involved in the arrest. While an individual may still be eligible for expungement despite pending restitution payments and other fines, it is advisable to contact the probation division office for the total sum of money owed. Petitioners must communicate legal name changes with proof of a court order.
For the filing process proper, follow these steps:
Request for a copy of the state police criminal history record fingerprint mode. Contact www.bioapplicant.com/nj or call 1–877–503–5981. Additional information is available at www.state.nj.us/lps/njsp/ or by calling 609–882 2000 ext 2918. Note that the state police will only have a criminal record if there was a fingerprinting at the point of arrest. If there was none, the record should be at the police department and the court.
Fill out the forms:
- Petition for expungement form (Form A)
- Order for hearing (Form B)
- Proposed expungement order (Form C)
- Cover letter (Form D)
Make three copies of a notarized form A and other forms, keeping a copy each for personal purpose. Take the three copies for filing.
After filing, the court returns a copy of forms A, B, and C by mail, bearing an expungement docket number. A processed form B will also bear the time and date for court hearing. Upon receiving them, reproduce seven copies and mail one copy of each to the following agencies:
- The Attorney General of New Jersey
- The Superintendent of State Police Expungement Unit
- The County Prosecutor
- The Administrator of the Municipal Court and the Chief of the Police Department where the offense or arrest occurred
- Chief law enforcement officer of any other involved law enforcement agency
- Institutional Warden (if there was incarceration)
- County Probation division
- Division of Criminal Justice Records and Identification unit
Send all copies only by certified mail or by electronic means if available. Promptly attend the court hearing on the due date and time with all relevant documents. If the judge grants it, the petitioner receives a completed expungement order. Make copies of this and distribute it to the earlier list. Attach a cover letter (form G), which is a notice of expungement granted. For further information and copies of forms, read the Expungement Kit carefully.
Do Sealed Records Show up In New Jersey Background Checks?
No. A routine background check will not yield any information about an expunged record. However, if the individual seeks employment with law enforcement, corrections, or judicial agencies of the state, such records will be available to persons representing the agencies of interest.
Who Can See Sealed Criminal Records in New Jersey?
Expunged criminal records do not get destroyed; instead, the process separates the documents in a different location. Whenever anyone conducts a public record search, it will read ‘no criminal record available.’ The Administrative Office of Courts has access to these records for a regular review every five years. It is also available upon request to law enforcement agents for investigative purposes.
How to Get Sealed Records in New Jersey
Both terms “expunge” and “seal” mean the same thing in New Jersey. However, anyone wishing to view or copy a sealed record must present a court or an executive order along with their application. To get a court order, file a petition to the court of current jurisdiction challenging the document’s status. The court reviews the petition and grants it if the basis for it has merit.