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Perhaps you made some mistakes when you were young, but have since realized the error of your ways and are trying to live a reputable life. Having a criminal record can hold you back from major life steps, such as getting a good job or qualifying for credit or a lease. In an earlier post, we explained who is eligible for a criminal expungement. Now, here's a rundown of how the expungement process works and the steps you'll need to take. 

  1. Locate your records-You'll need to have all of your arrest and detention records from both your adult and juvenile criminal history. This will include any dates of arrest, the charges filed against you, the original indictment, and the disposition or punishment that resulted. You'll need to contact the Superior Court Criminal Case Management Office in the county where you were arrested, or the Superior Court Family Division Office if you were arrested as a juvenile.
  2. Get a police criminal history record and fingerprint check-the Court will want to confirm that you haven't committed any major offenses (anything more serious than a disorderly offense) since the conviction you're seeking to expunge. This will require you to be fingerprinted by the official New Jersey fingerprinting company.
  3. Complete required forms- You will need to complete a Petition for Expungement, an Order for Hearing, and an Expungement Order. The Petition for Expungement explains to the court why you believe you're a good candidate for expungement. The Order for Hearing tells the court that you're requesting a hearing on your expungement, and the Expungement Order is a draft of what you'd like the judge to sign if the Petition for Expungement is granted. These forms can be found on the New Jersey State Judiciary website.
  4. File and Serve the forms-You'll need to file and serve a number of copies of these forms, along with a cover letter, to the court where you were originally arrested, as well as other parties such as the New Jersey attorney general, the prosecutor of the county where you were arrested, the chief of police in the county where you were arrested, and any state law enforcement officers involved in the arrest.
  5. Attend the hearing- The court may or may not require you to appear to argue why your record should be expunged. For example, if a law enforcement officer objects to the expungement, you will need to appear to explain to the judge why your record should be expunged.

As you can see, expungement is complex. Even the State of New Jersey strongly recommends that you hire an attorney to guide you through the process. Don't take risks with your future. Find an experienced criminal defense attorney who knows how to navigate the system, and can give you a better chance of clearing your record so that you can move on with your life with a clean slate. Contact the Morristown expungement attorneys at Smith and Doran to discuss your case, at 973-292-0016.

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Morristown, NJ 07960

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