Some of the most popular legal questions New Jersey residents have often involve the consequences of an arrest during their youth: Is that time I got arrested when I was younger still on my record? Will that arrest for underage drinking show up on my background check?  Do I have to tell my employer about a prior arrest?  Do I have to put an arrest on my graduate school applications?  Unfortunately, the answer to these questions is often “yes!”  This is because anytime an individual is arrested, or charged with any non-traffic offense, there is a record of that arrest. If later convicted, then the person has a record of both an arrest and a conviction.  This is true even if a New Jersey resident was never taken into custody.

Fortunately, we don’t have to be saddled with the burden of youthful indiscretions forever.  There is, in fact, an answer to the question of “how to get an arrest removed from my record in New Jersey.”  New Jersey law, particularly N.J.S.A. 2C:52-1 through N.J.S.A. 2C:52-32, provides for a process known as expungement. 

A successful expungement seals the records of eligible arrests and convictions, as long as the application is approved by a judge.  Thereafter, anyone doing a background check through local law enforcement agencies, the New Jersey State Police, and even the FBI, will be notified there is “no record.”  Furthermore, after you expunge a criminal record, you are legally entitled to state that arrest or conviction never happened when applying to many professions. 

Unfortunately, the expungement process can be tedious, and requires an understanding of the procedural hurdles necessary for an application to be granted in New Jersey.  First, the subject records must be obtained, and a Petition for Expungement must be filed with the Superior Court in the county where the arrest or prosecution took place.  For example, if you were arrested as a teenager in Mercer County, NJ for a disorderly persons offense, and enough time has passed since that arrest, a petition with the Mercer County Superior Court in Trenton, NJ would be filed.  After the petition has been reviewed, a hearing date will be assigned, and a number of law enforcement agencies are required to be notified and given a chance to object to the expungement.  After a hearing, if all of the necessary conditions have been met, an Expungement Order will be entered.  The Order then needs to be distributed to all of the necessary agencies.    

Although not required, an expungement lawyer who is familiar with the Superior Courts in New Jersey, and the procedural requirements of obtaining an expungement, can help in getting your records properly expunged.  Furthermore, not all records are eligible to be expunged and certain timelines apply.  The attorneys at Weir & Associates, L.L.C. have experience obtaining expungements for clients in the Mercer County and surrounding areas, and are intimately familiar with New Jersey Superior Courts.