Erase Your Arrest!

ERASE YOUR ARREST! Written by Lawrence Kroll, October 2016 You got arrested. It doesn’t matter for what-perhaps you were too loud at 2:00 am. Perhaps you had illegal window tinting and mouthed off to the cop when you got stopped. Maybe you were in the wrong place at the wrong time and got caught up in a checkpoint. Maybe you refused to cut the grass and the building inspector came to your house. You were arrested, you got a ticket or a summons or a criminal complaint. You went to court, and the charge was dismissed, with the Court’s apologies. It’s no big deal-it’s just an arrest, after all. It’s not like you DID anything, right? WRONG. It might not be a conviction or an offense, but there is a record of your arrest. Many employers, especially for sensitive jobs, ask if you have ever been arrested. You might want to get a license of some sort for your job or trade. The license application might ask if you ever were arrested. NOW WHAT? New Jersey recently amended expungement laws to address this very issue. The first question you might ask is; What is an expungement? An expungement is literally an eraser-you apply to the Court to erase (expunge) your criminal history. This includes serious charges, like felonies, and less serious charges, like disorderly persons offenses, and also records of arrests. As of last April, if you were arrested and the charge was ultimately dismissed, in most cases you are entitled to an automatic expungement of the arrest. If you appeared in Superior Court, the court staff is immediately supposed to give you forms to fill out asking for all records of the arrest to be expunged. You can fill them out before you leave the courthouse, and the Court processes the request and your arrest records are supposed to be expunged. There is no fee for this expungement request, and you do not have to put anyone on notice of your request. If you appeared in Municipal Court, again, you are entitled to an automatic and immediate expungement, but there is a catch (isn’t there always). You have to ASK the court staff for the expungement forms. They don’t give them to you automatically. There may be some Municipal Courts that do, but the law says they don’t have to. If you ask for the forms at that time, again, there is no fee, and you do not need to put anyone on notice of your request. You fill out the form, the Municipal Court staff sends your request to the Superior Court, and your arrest is expunged. If you don’t ask for the forms, it’s a little different. You still don’t need to pay a filing fee, but you will need to submit a formal application for expungement with the Court (called a Verified Complaint) and put any involved law enforcement agency and the court on notice. There is no waiting period to request the expungement of an arrest. In most cases, you will be entitled to have your arrest expunged, but it will take a little more time and effort. If you find yourself in this situation, we are more than happy to help you request the expungement. Can you do it yourself? Absolutely. Will we make the process easier-we sure hope so! We can also help if you need more serious charges expunged. We look forward to helping you!