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Clearing Your Record

 

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Clearing Your Record: A six-step guide to expunging criminal records in New Jersey

Written and Published by Legal Services of New Jersey

© 2010 Legal Services of New Jersey

Note: The instructions below will explain the expungement process, but the forms referred to here are available only in the print edition, which is not available at this time. You may find forms on the New Jersey Judiciary’s website.

If you are a low-income New Jersey resident, you may be eligible for legal help from a Legal Services office in your area. You may also be eligible for free legal advice from LSNJ-LAW™, Legal Services of New Jersey’s statewide, toll-free legal hotline. The hotline telephone number is 1-888-LSNJ-LAW (1-888-576-5529) or 732-572-9100 if you are calling from outside New Jersey. Hotline hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. If you are eligible, the hotline can help you through the expungement process. If you are not eligible for assistance from Legal Services, the hotline will refer you to other possible resources.

Contents

Preface

Legal Services of New Jersey (LSNJ) coordinates the statewide Legal Services system in New Jersey, providing free legal assistance to low-income people in civil matters. Part of Legal Services’ mission is to make people more aware of their legal rights and provide helpful information if they choose to pursue a legal case on their own. Awareness may allow you to resolve some problems on your own, without the need for a lawyer, or to make better use of a lawyer if you have one.

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About This Manual

This manual provides basic information about how to clear (expunge) a record of arrest or conviction. In the limited circumstances where expungement is possible, the process is relatively simple and usually can be managed without the help of a lawyer. Legal Services offices rarely provide representation in such cases because their scarce resources are needed in other areas. This manual is provided in place of a lawyer. It is intended to permit people to help themselves.

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A Word of Caution About Using This Manual

This manual does not give advice about a particular legal problem that you may have, and it is not a substitute for seeing a lawyer when you need one. Talk to a lawyer if you think you need the help.

The information in this manual is accurate as of May 2010, but laws often change. Please check back here for updates to this manual, or talk to a lawyer for up-to-date legal advice.

 

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If You Need a Lawyer

If you are a low-income New Jersey resident, you may be eligible for legal help from a Legal Services office in your area. You can find a list of regional Legal Services programs and telephone numbers here. You may also be eligible for free legal advice from LSNJ-LAW™, Legal Services of New Jersey’s statewide, toll-free legal hotline. The hotline telephone number is 1-888-LSNJ-LAW (1-888-576-5529). Outside of New Jersey, please call (732) 572-9100 and ask to be transferred to the hotline. Hotline hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. If you are eligible, the hotline will help you through the expungement process. To find a private lawyer, call the lawyer referral service of your county bar association.

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Acknowledgments

This edition of Clearing Your Record was revised by LSNJ Senior Attorney Stephanie Setzer, LSNJ Supervising Attorney Akil S. Roper, LSNJ Paralegal Sevil Modeste, and LSNJ’s Prisoner Reentry Project staff. Susan Perger, LSNJ Publications Director, and Assistant Publications Director Alyce Garver handled the editing, design, and layout. Thanks to Charles David, LSNJ Webmaster, for posting the Web edition of this manual.

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Comments or Suggestions

We hope that this manual will be helpful to you. Please let us know if you have comments or suggestions that we might use in future editions. E-mail us at  or write to us at:

Legal Services of New Jersey
P.O. Box 1357
Edison, New Jersey 08818-1357

Melville D. Miller, Jr. President
Legal Services of New Jersey
May 2010

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Introduction

A record of an arrest or conviction can haunt a person forever. Applications for schools, jobs, and military service often ask if an applicant has a criminal record. Many people can solve this problem because they are eligible to clear (expunge) their New Jersey criminal record.

New Jersey law provides a limited right to expungement. The purpose of New Jersey’s expungement law is to give a person who has either one or very few convictions a fresh start. The law also provides for the removal of records of arrests where the arrest did not end in a conviction.

The law carefully defines who is eligible to expunge a criminal record. An eligible person must prepare a Petition for Expungement and file it in the Superior Court in the county where the arrest or prosecution took place.

A judge then decides whether to issue an Expungement Order. An Expungement Order means that, with some exceptions, the criminal proceedings never happened. It also allows the person to fill out school, job, and military applications truthfully without having to reveal that he or she was once arrested or convicted.

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Records Required to Be Kept Private

When an expungement is granted, law enforcement agencies are required by law to keep that person’s records private. However, the law does allow expunged records to be used later in certain cases. Should the person ever again become involved in any criminal proceedings, the records can be used. This means that, if the person is arrested following expungement, his or her past records will be considered in deciding eligibility for the pretrial intervention program (PTI), bail, or probation. If a crime victim files a claim with the Victims of Crime Compensation Office, the expunged records of the person convicted of the crime can be used in connection with the claim. If the criminal activity or arrest results in the person being incarcerated, the Department of Corrections is allowed to use the records in deciding how to classify and assign the prisoner within an institution. Also, following a conviction and a jail sentence, expunged records can be used in deciding eligibility for parole (early release). Further, even if you were granted an expungement, your record may still be kept in the Pretrial Intervention Registry pursuant to R. 3:28(e), and reports of your record may be filed as required under the Controlled Dangerous Substance Registry Act of 1970.

Many people want to go through the expungement process so that they can have a clear record when they apply for jobs. However, the law allows exceptions where expunged records may be considered, such as when a person applies for a job with a law enforcement agency. This includes jobs with state, county, and local corrections departments; prosecutors; courts; and police. This does not mean that those agencies will never employ people with records, but it does mean that those applying must still reveal the existence of an expunged record on a job application.

Agencies not associated with law enforcement that require information about a person’s criminal record prior to expungement (such as the Real Estate Commission or the Department of Insurance) cannot be ordered legally to correct their records after an Expungement Order is granted. Such agencies are beyond the reach of expungement orders and may continue to publicize such information.

The expungement procedure is fairly simple. This manual will tell you the exact steps to follow. It has been prepared to help you expunge your record if you cannot afford a lawyer. If you can afford an attorney and decide that you want him or her to take you through this process, the information in this manual may help you to decide whether or not you are eligible for an expungement.

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What is N.J.S.A. 2C:52?

The laws, also referred to as “statutes,” made by the New Jersey Legislature are kept in a set of bound, green-colored volumes, called New Jersey Statutes Annotated (N.J.S.A.). These books are numbered and have “titles.” There are “chapters” in each book, and “articles” in each chapter. So N.J.S.A. 2C:52-1 means that the law on expungement can be found in N.J.S.A., title 2C, chapter 52, article 1. Note: There are three volumes of N.J.S.A. books listed as Title 2C–Code of Criminal Justice. Besides the law on expungement, these books also contain most of New Jersey’s laws dealing with arrests, crimes, and punishment.

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Step 1: Are You Eligible?

The answer to this basic question depends on the type and number of criminal records you have. (Only New Jersey convictions and arrests may be expunged in New Jersey. If you want to expunge a record from another state or a conviction or arrest for a federal offense, you must contact the court system in that state or the federal court system to determine whether you may expunge that record.) The type of records means whether a conviction was for an indictable offense (generally an offense punishable by six months of jail time or more), for a disorderly persons offense (generally an offense punishable by less than six months of jail time), or for a violation of a municipal ordinance. Note that, even where an indictable offense carries a penalty of six months or more of jail time, a judge is permitted, in some cases, to sentence you to probation instead of time in jail.

If the conviction or guilty plea occurred in the Superior Court in the county in which the crime occurred, the offense was probably an indictable offense. If, on the other hand, the conviction or guilty plea occurred in a local municipal court, it was probably a disorderly persons offense or municipal ordinance violation.

Note: Motor vehicle convictions, most of which occur in municipal court, may not be expunged. This is because they are not criminal convictions, but instead are violations of the motor vehicle code. This includes driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

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Expunging an Indictable Conviction

A person whose record consists of just one conviction of an expungeable indictable offense may expunge the record of that conviction as long as he or she has not been convicted of more than two disorderly or petty disorderly persons offenses in New Jersey or any other state. If you have been convicted of two or more indictable offenses, whether those convictions were in New Jersey or any other state, you may not expunge your criminal conviction record. In some instances, the court may consider the nature of any subsequent disorderly persons convictions, even if there is only one, and the circumstances surrounding them when considering a petition to expunge an indictable conviction. Except for the circumstances outlined below, you must wait at least 10 years from the date of the conviction, payment of fine, completion of probation or parole, or release from jail—whichever is later—before applying to expunge a record of a conviction of an indictable offense.

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Expungement Law Recently Amended

The expungement law was recently amended to allow the court to grant an expungement of an indictable offense although less than 10 years have passed from date of the conviction, payment of fine, completion of probation or parole, or release from jail—whichever is later—where:

  • Less than 10 years have passed since the payment of a fine (and all other statutory requirements are met), and the court finds that the petitioner has been making payments on a court-authorized payment plan, or could not do so because of “compelling circumstances.” (This might include the amount of the fine imposed, the person’s age at the time of the offense, the person’s financial condition, and other circumstances affecting the ability to pay.)

    or

  • At least five years have passed since meeting all of the above requirements, during which time the petitioner has had no new convictions, and the court finds that expungement is in the “public interest” considering the nature of the offense, the character of the applicant, and the applicant’s conduct since the conviction.

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Convictions That Cannot Be Expunged

  • Criminal homicide (except death by auto as specified in N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5)
  • Kidnapping
  • Human trafficking
  • Luring or enticing
  • Aggravated sexual assault
  • Aggravated criminal sexual contact
  • Criminal sexual contact (if the victim is a minor)
  • Criminal restraint (if the victim is a minor and the offender is not the parent of the victim)
  • False imprisonment (if the victim is a minor and the offender is not the parent of the victim)
  • Robbery
  • Arson and related offenses
  • Terrorism
  • Producing or possessing chemical weapons, biological agents, or nuclear or radiological devices
  • Endangering the welfare of a child by engaging in sexual conduct that would impair or debauch the morals of the child
  • Endangering the welfare of a child by photographing or filming a child in a prohibited sex act or simulated sex act, or reproducing or reconstructing such an image
  • Causing or permitting a child to engage in a prohibited sexual act
  • Selling or manufacturing child pornography
  • Knowingly promoting the prostitution of the actor’s child
  • Perjury
  • False swearing
  • Conspiracies or attempts and to attempt such crimes.

Also, certain additional crimes, if committed prior to September 1, 1979, cannot be expunged:

  • Manslaughter
  • Treason
  • Anarchy
  • Rape or forcible sodomy
  • Embracery
  • Conspiracies or attempts to commit any of the foregoing; or aiding, assisting, or concealing persons accused of the foregoing crimes.

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Controlled Dangerous Substances

Convictions for the sale or distribution of a controlled dangerous substance or possession with the intent to sell cannot be expunged, except in cases where the crimes involve:

  • Marijuana, where the total quantity sold, distributed, or possessed with intent to sell was 25 grams or less; or
  • Hashish, where the total quantity sold, distributed, or possessed with intent to sell was 5 grams or less.

In addition, convictions for third or fourth degree crimes involving sale or distribution or possession with intent to sell a controlled dangerous substance may be expunged where the court finds expungement is in the public interest, considering the nature of the offense and the character and conduct of the petitioner since the conviction. In such cases, the court must consider whether the need for availability of the records outweighs the petitioner’s interest in expunging the records.

Note that convictions for possession with the intent to distribute can be expunged, regardless of the type or amount of the drug possessed.

Finally, any crime committed by a person holding any public office, or conspiracy or attempt to commit such a crime, cannot be expunged if the crime involved or touched such office.

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Expunging a Disorderly Persons Conviction

Individuals whose records consist of one to three disorderly or petty disorderly persons offenses may expunge their criminal record as long as they have not been convicted of an indictable offense in New Jersey or any other state. If you have been convicted of four disorderly or petty disorderly persons charges, you may not expunge your conviction record. Before applying to expunge a record consisting of three or fewer petty disorderly or disorderly persons convictions, you must wait five years from the date of the conviction, payment of the fine, completion of probation or parole, or release from jail—whichever is later.

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Expunging a Municipal Ordinance Conviction

Municipal courts also hear cases involving violations of municipal ordinances (town laws). If the conviction was for a violation of a municipal ordinance, the sentence could not have been for more than 90 days or a $200 fine. Some examples of actions not allowed by municipal ordinances include littering, obscenity, curfew violations, unleashed pets, and loud radios.

To expunge a conviction for a violation of a municipal ordinance (not including traffic offenses), the requirements are the same as for disorderly persons offenses, except that the waiting period is two years from the date of conviction, payment of fine, satisfactory completion of probation, or release from jail—whichever is later.

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Young Drug Offenders Get Special Consideration for Certain Convictions

A person who was 21 or younger when convicted of possessing a controlled dangerous substance, or of selling, distributing, or possessing marijuana or hashish with the intent to sell it, may be eligible to apply for expungement one year after the conviction if:

  • The conviction was for possession of a controlled dangerous substance; or
  • The total amount of the marijuana sold, distributed, or possessed with intent to sell was 25 grams or less; or
  • The total amount of hashish sold, distributed, or possessed with intent to sell was 5 grams or less.

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Crimes That Have the Same Disposition Date

In certain limited cases, the court may count convictions that have the same disposition date as one indictable or one disorderly persons offense. For example, if your criminal record contains several convictions with the same disposition date, the court will consider whether the crimes occurred on the same day or within a short period of time and so may be considered a crime “spree.” If they are determined to be a part of a crime spree, they will be counted as only one conviction. However, if the crimes or offenses were committed on separate occasions, they may be counted as separate convictions.

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Expunging an Arrest Record

Many people believe that if they were arrested but not convicted (either because they were found not guilty or because the charges were dismissed (dropped), their record remains clean. However, this is not true. In fact, a record of an arrest may cause as many problems as one indicating a conviction. It is, therefore, as important to expunge an arrest record as it is to expunge the record of a conviction.

If you were arrested for any offense but not convicted (either found not guilty or the charges were dismissed), you are eligible for an expungement at any time. There is one exception, however. If you were found not guilty by reason of insanity, expungement is not permitted at all.

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Pretrial Intervention, Supervisory Treatment, Conditional Discharge, and Other Diversion Programs

If you were awarded pretrial intervention (PTI) in your case, and your case was subsequently dismissed after you completed the PTI, you will still have an arrest record that can be expunged like any other arrest record. See Expunging an Arrest Record.

If your case was dismissed after you completed a supervisory treatment program or your case was conditionally discharged pursuant to the New Jersey Controlled Dangerous Substance Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:36A-1, you must wait six months after completion of those programs before filing your petition.

A judge can deny your Petition for Expungement of convictions that were entered after or before the completion of a supervisory treatment, PTI, or diversion program.

Note: Whether you are attempting to expunge a disorderly persons offense, a petty disorderly persons offense, or a criminal charge, if you have before or after that conviction been granted dismissal of criminal charges following completion of a supervisory treatment or other diversion program, such as pretrial intervention (PTI), your petition will be denied.

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Megan’s Law

If you have been convicted of a crime and are required to comply with the reporting and registration requirements of Megan’s Law, the court, in its discretion, may deny your petition. The court may determine that the need for the availability of your criminal record outweighs the desirability of expunging the record. However, the court will only use its discretion to deny the expungement if there is an objection from one of the parties who received notice of the filing of the petition.

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Other Requirements Before You Can File a Petition for Expungement

You must not have any charges pending or otherwise still open when you file a Petition for Expungement, and you must certify to that on your Petition. Also, you must certify that you have never been granted an expungement of an indictable offense in New Jersey or in any other state. And finally, if your case has been dismissed as a result of completion of a supervisory treatment or other diversion program, you must indicate the nature of the original charge, the court of disposition, and the date of disposition.

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Was a Plea Bargain Involved?

If you had one or more charges dismissed or discharged as the result of a plea bargain agreement in which you agreed to a conviction on other charges, that conviction must be expunged before the arrest record of the dismissed charges can be expunged.

Example: John was charged with harassment and simple assault, both disorderly persons offenses. In court, John agreed to plead guilty to the assault charge in exchange for the harassment charge being dropped. As a result, John was never convicted of harassment, but the arrest for harassment still exists. For the harassment arrest to be expunged, he would first have to expunge the assault conviction, and he could then expunge the record of the arrest on the harassment charge. Thus, the five-year waiting period (see Expunging a Disorderly Persons Conviction) would apply to both charges.

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Do You Have an Out-of-State Criminal Record?

The state of New Jersey cannot expunge a criminal record from another state. However convictions from another state are counted toward the number of convictions that are allowed for expungement of a criminal record under New Jersey law. For this reason, out-of-state convictions must be listed in the petition for expungement. The criminal record from another state will count as an indictable offense if the elements of the crime committed are similar to the elements of an indictable offense in New Jersey. Similarly, the out-of-state conviction will be treated as a disorderly persons charge if the elements of the charge are similar to the elements of a New Jersey disorderly persons charge.

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Step 2: Locate Your Records

In order to prepare your expungement petition and prove your eligibility, you will need to get the following information:

  • The date of your arrest.
  • The statute(s) and the offense(s) for which you were arrested or convicted. (Note that, if the offenses were reduced from the original charges, these will be different.)
  • The original indictment, summons(es), or complaint(s)/docket number(s).
  • The date of the conviction or the date the charges were dismissed if you were found not guilty (also called “date of disposition if no conviction resulted” in the statute).
  • The court’s disposition of the matter and the specific punishment imposed, if any, including the dates any fines were paid.

Get any of the above information that you are missing.

If you had an attorney when you were arrested and charged, check first to see if he or she has this information in your case file. If so, this can save you quite a bit of time.

If you must locate your records on your own for an indictable/criminal conviction or arrest, contact the Criminal Case Management Office in the county where the arrest or conviction occurred, and take some personal identification, such as a driver’s license or a birth certificate. You might also contact the county prosecutor and explain that you are interested in expunging your records and ask for the information listed above, or ask to look at your file if this is permitted. You may also be able to find information you need on disorderly offenses by contacting the clerk of the municipal court(s) in which you were prosecuted or the police department involved in your arrest(s).

If you cannot get all of the information you need, you will have to get a copy of your criminal record from the New Jersey State Police. See How to Get Your Criminal History Record from the New Jersey State Police. You can also find the instructions and the form you will need to fill out on the New Jersey State Pollce Web site.

Note: The State Police will only have a rap sheet if you were fingerprinted when you were arrested. If you were not fingerprinted, and only a complaint was signed against you when you were arrested, you will still have a record of the arrest to expunge at the police department, but you will not have a rap sheet within the Division of State Police, State Bureau of Investigation.

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Step 3: Complete the Forms

The Petition for Expungement states that you are requesting an Expungement Order and states why you qualify. Remove Form 1 from this guide (or make copies) and fill in the blanks.

Fill in your name, address, telephone number, and Social Security number at the top left-hand side of the form. At the top right-hand side, enter the name of the county in which you will be filing the Petition for Expungement. You may file the petition in the county where you were arrested. If you were arrested in more than one county, contact the Criminal Case Management Office in either county and ask whether they will allow you to file for expungement of your entire record in that county. Leave the space above “Docket No.” blank. The court clerk will give you a docket number and will fill in the blank. Where it states “In the Matter of the Expungement of the Criminal Records of _______,” put your full name.

Then, where it states, “I, _______,” fill in your name, and where it states “residing at _______,” enter your current address. Put your date of birth in paragraph 1. In paragraph 2, enter the date on which you were arrested and the town in which you were arrested. Then fill in the name of the offense you were charged with and give the New Jersey statute under which you were arrested. If you were charged with multiple offenses in one arrest, list each offense separated by a semi-colon. Then list each corresponding statute in the space provided, also separated by a semi-colon.

Fill in the original indictment, summons, or complaint number(s) in paragraph 3.

If the charge against you was dismissed, fill in paragraph 4. (If the charge against you was not dismissed, cross out paragraph 4 and go to paragraph 5.) Fill in the date on which the charge was dismissed, the name of the charge that was dismissed, and the name of the court that dismissed the charge—for example, Superior Court of New Jersey, Ocean County, or Municipal Court of the Township of Edison. If you did not participate in a conditional discharge or pretrial intervention program, cross out “after a conditional discharge or pretrial intervention program completed.”

If you were convicted or pleaded guilty to the charges, fill in paragraph 5. Fill in the date on which you pleaded or were found guilty, the name of the offense you pleaded guilty to, and the statute under which you pleaded guilty. (Remember, this is the statute under which you pleaded or were found guilty, not the statute under which you were arrested.) You also must indicate what the sentence was. For example, the sentence could have been jail/prison time, a fine, restitution, probation or parole, or a combination of these. You should indicate the date on which you were released from prison, the date the fine was paid, and/or the date on which probation or parole was completed in the spaces provided.

If you are trying to expunge more than one conviction or arrest, fill in paragraphs 6-13. Otherwise, cross out those paragraphs that do not apply.

Sign and print your name at the bottom of page 4 where indicated.

Note: Make sure that you fill in or cross out all of the blanks on Form 1, including your date of birth.

You must also complete the verification on page 5 of the petition, indicating that there are no disorderly persons, petty disorderly persons, or criminal charges pending against you. If you are seeking expungement of a conviction of an indictable offense, you must also include an affidavit that you have never been granted expungement, sealing (the prior name for expungement in New Jersey), or other relief regarding a criminal conviction. If you are not seeking expungement of an indictable conviction, cross out paragraph 3 of the verification. The verification must be notarized.

Next, fill out the Order for Hearing (Form 2). The Order for Hearing is used by the judge to schedule a hearing. The Superior Court judge assigned to your case will schedule a hearing between 35 and 60 days after he or she gets your petition. Fill in your name and address at the upper left-hand corner. Indicate the county in which you will be filing your petition. Again, the clerk will fill in the docket number, so leave that space blank. Where it states “In the Matter of the Expungement of the Criminal Records of _________,” put your name. Fill in your name in the first space after “This matter having been opened to the Court upon the annexed Petition of _________.” Also, fill in the blanks at the bottom of the page where it asks for the prosecutor of the county where you were arrested, the chief of the police department of the town where you were arrested, and the magistrate of the town municipal court where you were arrested. If you were incarcerated, fill in the name of the prison warden/administrator. If you were not incarcerated, you may leave this blank. The judge will sign the order, so leave the next space blank.

Fill out the Expungement Order (Form 3). At the top left-hand corner, put your name and address, and at the top right-hand side, indicate the county in which you will be filing your petition. Leave the space above “Docket No.” blank.

Next, in the first line of the Expungement Order, after “Verified Petition of,” enter your name, then your address. Leave the next three spaces blank, and after “the Clerk(s) of the __________ Municipal Court(s)” and “Chief(s) of the __________ Police Department(s),” fill in the name of the town in which you were arrested. If you were arrested in more than one town, enter the names of all of the towns. Then, enter the county of the prosecutor(s) in the county or counties where you were arrested. Enter your name in the next blank. In the last spaces on the first page of Form 3, enter the dates you were arrested and the statute(s) under which you were arrested. Leave the signature line on the second page blank. The judge will sign the order.

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Step 4: File and Serve the Forms

Next, make three copies of your notarized Petition for Expungement (Form 1), Order for Hearing (Form 2), and proposed final order (Form 3: Expungement Order). Deliver or mail the originals and two of the photocopies (keep one copy of each for your records), two self-addressed, stamped envelopes, and the cover letter (Form 4) to the Criminal Case Management Office in the county where the arrest and/or prosecution occurred. See County Criminal Case Management Offices for a list of the county offices where forms should be mailed, along with telephone numbers.

There is a filing fee of $52.50. Courts are supposed to accept personal checks, but many do not, so you should include a money order or certified check. Please see the list of County Criminal Case Management Offices for the proper way to make out the check or money order.

If you are unable to pay the filing fee, you may apply to have the fee waived. Fill out Form 5 (Affidavit of Indigency) just as you filled out the other forms. Your name and address should be filled in at the upper left-hand corner, and the county where you are filing the petition should appear in the blank on the right-hand side where it says “County _________.” Where it states “In the Matter of the Expungement of the Criminal Records of _________,” fill in your name. Enter your Social Security number on the next line.

Your name goes in the first blank in the affidavit. You must indicate your present income in the space provided. For example, “1. My present income is $154.50 per week.” You must sign the affidavit and have it notarized before submitting it to the court.

One copy of the Petition for Expungement, Order for Hearing, and proposed final order will be mailed back to you marked “Filed” and with a docket number. The Order for Hearing will also state the time and the date for your hearing. Immediately after receiving the filed copies from the court, make at least seven copies of the Petition for Expungement, Order for Hearing, and proposed final order.

After you receive a filed copy of the Petition for Expungement, Order for Hearing, and proposed final order from the clerk, mail one copy of each, immediately, via certified mail, return receipt requested, to each of the following:

  • The Attorney General
  • The Superintendent of State Police, Expungement Unit
  • The county prosecutor
  • The magistrate or the court clerk of the municipal court if the matter was heard by a municipal court
  • The chief of police or other head of the police department where the offense was committed or the arrest was made
  • The chief law enforcement officer of any other New Jersey law enforcement agency that participated in the arrest
  • The warden/administrator of any institution in which you were incarcerated, if applicable
  • For State Grand Jury cases: Division of Criminal Justice, Attention: Records and Identification, 25 Market Street, P.O. Box 085, Trenton, New Jersey 08625
  • For conditional discharge (CD) and pretrial intervention (PTI), the county probation department.

You may use the cover letter (Form 6) when mailing to these agencies.

Mail the copies of these forms right away, as the statute mandates service or mailing within five days from the date of the order. Mail them at the post office, by certified mail, return receipt requested.

After you have received the certified mail return receipt cards back from the post office, contact the Criminal Case Management Office in the Superior Court, and ask the clerk whether the court requires that the proof of mailing be submitted at or prior to the hearing. If the proof of mailing is required to be submitted prior to the hearing, submit the certified mail receipts and the Proof of Notice (Form 7) pursuant to the clerk’s instructions. If proof is required to be produced at the hearing, make sure that you take the green certified mail return receipt cards and the Proof of Notice to court with you on the day of the hearing.

The Proof of Notice should be filled out like the other forms, with your name and address at the left-hand corner, and the county in which you filed the action filled in on the right. Indicate the docket number in the space provided, and fill in your name in the space at “In the Matter of the Expungement of the Criminal Records of _________.” In the spaces provided in the Proof of Notice, fill in the name of each agency to which you mailed a copy of the Petition for Expungement, the Order for Hearing, and the Expungement Order.

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Step 5: Go to the Hearing

Get to the court on your assigned hearing date about 15 minutes early. (Not all counties require an appearance. If an appearance is not required, you must mail the green return receipt cards to the place where you filed your petition, at least one week before the scheduled hearing.) Take the Petition for Expungement, the Expungement Order, and the green return receipt cards to the hearing (unless you previously filed them with the court) and, when you arrive, inform the court clerk that you are there. Any law enforcement officers objecting to the expungement will tell the judge the reason. The judge may ask you some questions and will decide whether to grant or deny you an expungement. If there is no opposition, the judge will, in most cases, grant your expungement.

If no law enforcement officers object to the expungement, the court may grant the order without a hearing. If this happens, you will receive a signed and filed Expungement Order in the mail.

It’s always a good practice to call the court the day before the hearing to confirm that it is still on the court’s calendar.

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Step 6: Serve the Expungement Order

Immediately after you receive a copy of the Expungement Order signed by the judge and stamped “Filed” by the court, mail one copy of the Expungement Order, by certified mail, return receipt requested, to each of the following:

  • The Attorney General
  • The Superintendent of State Police, Expungement Unit
  • The county prosecutor
  • The magistrate or the court clerk of the municipal court if the matter was heard by a municipal court
  • The chief of police or other head of the police department where the offense was committed or the arrest was made
  • The chief law enforcement officer of any other New Jersey law enforcement agency that participated in the arrest
  • The records division of any institution in which you were incarcerated
  • The identification bureau in the county where the arrest was made or where you were incarcerated (see County Identification Bureaus)
  • The warden/administrator of any institution in which you were incarcerated
  • For State Grand Jury cases: Division of Criminal Justice, Attention: Records and Identification, 25 Market Street, P.O. Box 085, Trenton, New Jersey 08625
  • For conditional discharge (CD) and pretrial intervention (PTI), the county probation department.

You may use the cover letter (Form 8) when mailing to these agencies.
Keep the mailing receipts and the green cards that are returned to you as proof that the documents were received. You are now entitled by law to answer any question on job applications, school applications, credit applications, military service applications, etc. as if the arrest and/or conviction never occurred. Remember, however, that if any law enforcement officer asks you about previous arrests or convictions, you must tell him or her that you have an expunged record, and you must tell him or her what the record was. Keep a copy of the Expungement Order in a safe place.

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How to Get Your Criminal History Record from the New Jersey State Police

The Division of State Police, Criminal Information Unit (CIU) provides fingerprint-based criminal history background checks to anyone who requests a copy of his or her record. The New Jersey State Police use the live scan fingerprinting services provided by MorphoTrak, Inc., a private company under contract with the State of New Jersey. In order to be fingerprinted for expungement purposes, you must contact MorphoTrak to schedule a time and place to have your fingerprints recorded at one of their approved sites. The quickest and easiest way to schedule your appointment is via the MorphoTrak Web site. If you do not have Web access, call MorphoTrak, toll-free, at 1-877-503-5981 (Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Saturday, 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon). A toll-free TTY telephone number, 1-800-673-0353, is available for hearing-impaired applicants with a modem-equipped telephone. Spanish-speaking operators are available upon request.

You must fill out form NJAPS2, which you can download from the State Police Web site. Bring the form and proper identification with you to your scheduled fingerprint appointment. The ID must be issued by a federal, state, county, or municipal body for identification purposes. It must include your photograph, name, home address, and date of birth. Acceptable identification includes a passport or a valid photo driver’s license or photo ID issued by New Jersey’s or any state’s MVC or DMV. The home address you enter on the form should be the same as the home address printed on your identification. Make sure your address is complete and accurate so that the State Police can mail you the results of your criminal history background check.

The fee is $41.00. You may pay by credit card, electronic debt check, or money order. Payment will be charged to your account when you schedule your appointment. Information about cancellations is printed on the form.

If you have any questions about the form, contact the New Jersey State Police, Criminal Information Unit, at (609) 882-2000, ext. 2918.

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Common Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I already went through the MorphoTrak fingerprint process with a previous employer. Do I need to go through the entire process again to get my records?

A: Yes. You must obtain a separate criminal record report, which will be used solely for expungement purposes.

Q: Can I pick which offenses/convictions I want to expunge from my record?

A: No. Your entire criminal record must be disclosed and will be reviewed by the court in its entirety. If you meet the statutory requirements, your expungement will be granted.

Q: I have convictions for two separate indictable offenses. Can I expunge my record?

A: No. You can only expunge one indictable conviction. If you have more than one on your record, you cannot expunge any indictable convictions.

Q: I have a conviction for a non-expungeable offense (for example, robbery) and an indictable offense. Can I expunge?

A: No. The non-expungeable conviction still would count as an indictable conviction. This means that you have two indictable convictions and cannot expunge either conviction.

Q: I have convictions for an indictable offense and two disorderly persons offenses. Can I expunge both?

A: No. You can only expunge disorderly persons convictions if you do not have any indictable convictions.

Q: Will my out-of-state convictions affect whether I am eligible to expunge my record?

A: Yes. Therefore, you must fully disclose your criminal record in the expungement petition, including out-of-state arrests and convictions.

Q: Can I use my petition to expunge a conviction from another state?

A: No. You may only expunge your arrests and convictions in New Jersey.

Q: Years ago, I expunged two disorderly persons offenses from my record. Can I now expunge another disorderly persons conviction?

A: Yes. You are permitted to expunge up to three disorderly persons convictions from your record. You may do this in one or more petitions for expungement, provided you meet all other statutory requirements.

Q: I need to have my petition notarized. What should I do if I can’t find a notary public?

A: Ask around. Someone you already know may be a notary public or may know how to locate one. Attorneys licensed to practice law in the State of New Jersey are also allowed to notarize documents.

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Conclusion

As a final reminder, make sure that you have completely followed all of the steps required in this guide. This is very important because, even though you may be eligible, if you have missed any of the required steps, your Petition for Expungement may be denied. In that case, you will have to start over.

We have tried to explain as simply as possible the steps to get your records expunged. Please contact us at  if you have any suggestions about how this guide can be improved.

 

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New Jersey Criminal Case Management Offices

Atlantic County
Superior Court of Atlantic County
Expungement Clerk 
4997 Unami Boulevard
Mays Landing, NJ 08330
(609) 625-7000

Bergen County
Criminal Case Management Office
Bergen County Justice Center
Room 119
10 Main Street
Hackensack, NJ 0760
(201) 527-2400

Burlington County
Burlington County Courthouse
Processing Office
49 Rancocas Road, 1st floor
Mount Holly, NJ 08060
(609) 518-2573

Camden County
Hall of Justice
Expungement Section 
101 South Fifth Street
Camden, NJ 08103
(609) 225-8037

Cape May County
Criminal Case Management
9 N. Main Street
Cape May Court House
NJ 08210
(609) 463-6550

Cumberland County
Criminal Case Manager
P.O. Box 757 
Bridgeton, NJ 08302
(609) 453-4300

Essex County
Veterans Courthouse
Criminal Records Office 
50 West Market Street, Room 1012  Newark, NJ 07102
(973) 693-6863

Gloucester County
Criminal Case Manager 
Hunter and Euclid Streets 
Woodbury, NJ 08096
(609) 453-4300

Hudson County
Criminal Records
Criminal Case Management
Administration Bldg.
595 Newark Ave., Rm 104
Jersey City 07306
(201) 217-5217

Hunterdon County
Criminal Division
Hunterdon Justice Center
65 Park Avenue 
Flemington, NJ 08822 
(908) 237-5840

Mercer County
Mercer County Superior Court
Criminal Records
Expungement Unit
209 South Broad St., Room 200
Trenton, NJ 08650
(609) 989-6613

 

Middlesex County
Middlesex County Court House
Criminal Records
56 Paterson Street,
P.O. Box 964
New Brunswick, NJ 08903-0964
(732) 519-3859

Monmouth County
Monmouth County Superior Court Criminal Division 
71 Monument Park,
P.O. Box 1271 
Freehold, NJ 07728
(732) 677-4500

Morris County
Superior Court of New Jersey
Criminal Records Department P.O. Box 910 
Morristown, NJ 07963
(973) 326-6950

Ocean County
Ocean County Superior Court
Criminal Case Processing 
120 Hooper Avenue
Toms River, NJ 08753
(732) 929-4780

Passaic County
Superior Court
Criminal Division
77 Hamilton Street, 2nd Floor
Paterson, NJ 07505
(973) 247-8402

Salem County
Criminal Case Management
92 Market Street,
P.O. Box 78 
Salem, NJ 08079
(609) 935-7510, Ext. 8279

Somerset County
20 North Bridge Street
P.O. Box 3000
Somerville, NJ 08876
(908) 231-7600 Ext. 7628

Sussex County
Sussex County Judicial Center
Criminal Division
43-47 High Street
Newton, NJ 07860
(973) 579-0933

Union County
Criminal Division
2 Broad Street
Elizabeth, NJ 07207
(908) 659-4660

Warren County
Criminal Case Management
P.O. Box 900 
Belvidere, NJ 07823 
(908) 475-6990

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New Jersey County Prosecutors

Atlantic County
4997 Unami Blvd.
P.O. Box 2002
Mays Landing, NJ 08330
Phone: (609) 909-7800
Fax: (609) 909-7802
Web site: www.acpo.org

Bergen County
Justice Center
10 Main Street
Hackensack, NJ 07601-7681
Phone: (201) 646-2300
Fax: (201) 646-3794

Burlington County
County Courts Facility
49 Rancocas Road
P.O. Box 6000
Mount Holly, NJ 08060
Phone: (609) 265-5035
Fax: (609) 265-5007

Camden County
25 N. 5th Street
Camden, NJ 08102-1231
Phone: (609) 225-8400
Fax: (856) 963-0080

Cape May County
Crest Haven Complex
110 Justice Way, 4 Moore Road
Cape May Court House, NJ 08210
Phone: (609) 465-1135
Fax: (609) 465-1347

Cumberland County
43 Fayette Street
Bridgeton, NJ 08302
Phone: (856) 453-0486
Fax: (856) 451-1507

Essex County
Veterans Courthouse
50 W. Market Street
Newark, NJ 07102
Phone: (973) 621-4700
Fax: (973) 621-4560
Web site: www.njecpo.org

Gloucester County
P.O. Box 623
Woodbury, NJ 08096
Phone: (609) 384-5500
Fax: (609) 384-8624
E-mail:

Hudson County
Administration Building
595 Newark Avenue, 6th Floor
Jersey City, NJ 07306
Phone: (201) 795-6400
Fax: (201) 795-3365

Hunterdon County
Justice Center
65 Park Avenue
P.O. Box 756
Flemington, NJ 08822-0756
Phone: (908) 788-1129
Fax: (908) 806-4618
E-mail:

Mercer County
County Court House
209 Broad Street, 3rd Floor
P.O. Box 8068
Trenton, NJ 08650
Phone: (609) 989-6350
Fax: (609) 989-0601
Web site: www.mercerpros-nj.com

 

Middlesex County
25 Kirkpatrick Street, 3rd Floor
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
Phone: (732) 745-3300
Fax: (732) 745-2791
E-mail:

Monmouth County
East Wing, Court House
71 Monument Park, 3rd Floor
Freehold, NJ 07728-1261
Phone: (732) 431-7160
Fax: (732) 409-3673
E-mail:
Web site: www.prosecutor.co.monmouth.nj.us

Morris County
Administration & Records Bldg.
P.O. Box 900
Morristown, NJ 07963-0900
Phone: (973) 285-6200
Fax: (973) 285-6226
Web site: morrisprosecutor.org

Ocean County
119 Hooper Avenue
P.O. Box 2191
Toms River, NJ 08754
Phone: (732) 929-2027
Fax: (732) 506-5088
Web site: www.oceancountyprosecutor.org

Passaic County
Administration Building
401 Grand Street
Paterson, NJ 07505
Phone: (973) 881-4800
Fax: (973) 225-0155
Web site: www.pcponj.org

Salem County
Court House
87 Market Street
P.O. Box 462
Salem, NJ 08079
Phone: (856) 935-7510 Ext. 8333
Fax: (856) 935-8737

Somerset County
40 N. Bridge Street
P.O. Box 3000
Somerville, NJ 08876
Phone: (908) 231-7100
Fax: (908) 704-0056
Web site: www.scpo.net

Sussex County
19-21 High Street
Newton, NJ 07860
Phone: (973) 383-1570
Fax: (973) 383-4929

Union County
32 Rahway Avenue
Elizabeth, NJ 07202-2115
Phone: (908) 527-4500
Fax: (908) 289-1267
Web site: ucnj.org/government/prosecutor

Warren County
Court House
413 Second Street
Belvidere, NJ 07823
Phone: (908) 475-6275

 

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County Identification Bureaus

Atlantic County
Atlantic County Sheriff 
4997 Unami Blvd.
Mays Landing, NJ 08330
Attention: I.D. Bureau

Bergen County
Bureau of Criminal Identification
Bergen County Sheriff
160 South River Street
Hackensack, NJ 07601

Burlington County
Burlington County Sheriff
49 Rancocas Road
Mount Holly, NJ 08060
Attention: Expungement

Camden County
Camden County Sheriff 
P.O. Box 769 
Camden, NJ 08101
Attention: I.D. Bureau

Cape May County
Cape May County Sheriff
4 Moore Road
Cape May Court House NJ 08210 
Attention: I.D. Bureau

Cumberland County
Cumberland County Sheriff 
220 N. Laurel Street
Bridgeton, NJ 08302
Attention: I.D. Bureau

Essex County
Essex County Sheriff
Veterans Courthouse
50 West Market Street 
Newark, NJ 07102

Gloucester County
Gloucester County Sheriff  Criminal Justice Complex
P.O. Box 376 
Woodbury, NJ 08096

Hudson County
Hudson County Sheriff
Administrative Building
595 Newark Avenue
Jersey City, NJ 07306
Attention: B.C.I.

Hunterdon County
Hunterdon County Sheriff 
P.O. Box 2900
Flemington, NJ 08822
Attention: I.D. Bureau

Mercer County
Mercer County Sheriff 
P.O. Box 8068
Trenton, NJ 08650

 

Middlesex County
Middlesex County Sheriff 
701 Livingston Avenue 
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
Attention: Records

Monmouth County
Monmouth County
Criminal Identification Bureau
50 E. Main Street
Freehold, NJ 07728

Morris County
Morris County Sheriff 
P.O. Box 900 
Morristown, NJ 07963-900
Attention: C.I.D.

Ocean County
Ocean County Sheriff 
120 Hooper Avenue
Toms River, NJ 08753
Attention: I.D. Bureau

Passaic County
Passaic County Sheriff 
Criminal Identification Bureau
11 Sheriff’s Plaza 
Paterson, NJ 07501

Salem County
Salem County Sheriff
Identification Bureau
94 Market Street
Salem, NJ 08079

Somerset County
Somerset County Sheriff
P.O. Box 3000
Somerville, NJ 08876
Attention: I.D. Bureau

Sussex County
Sussex County Sheriff 
39 High Street
Newton, NJ 07860
Attention: Records

Union County
Union County Sheriff 
10 Elizabethtown Plaza 
Elizabeth, NJ 07207 
Attention: I.D. Bureau

Warren County
Warren County Sheriff 
413 Second Street Courthouse
Belvidere, NJ 07823 
Attention: Warrant Officer

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