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Do you know that if you are arrested and found not guilty, or if your case was dismissed, the arrest still shows on a criminal history check?  Well, it seems unfair to me, but it does.  This is especially disturbing if you received a Conditional Discharge for a minor drug offense, such as possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana.  You were told, I am sure, that if you were a first time offender, paid your fines, and stayed out of trouble for a year, that the matter would go away and you would not have a criminal record.  Well, that is only party true.  Why?  Because the whole truth is that your criminal record will not show a conviction, however, you were charged with the crime, and that charge or arrest is going to stay a part of your criminal record for the rest of your life unless you do something about it.  So, if you have to fill out an employment application, and they ask you if you have ever been convicted, you can proudly tell them “No, I have never been convicted of a crime.”  But what if they ask you if you have ever been arrested?  That is a different story.  The Conditional Discharge (NJ Statute No. 2C:36A-1) erases only the conviction, it does not erase the arrest.  So, if your future employee asks you if you have ever been arrested, you will have to answer “yes.”  That is not a good thing.  The mere mention of an arrest is probably enough to stop a potential employer from hiring you. That’s why you should clear up your record if given the chance.

So, what can you do about it?

Get an expungement.  It’s like hitting the magic delete button on your criminal history.

The New Jersey expungement law provides that a person who has a conviction for a first time offense can apply to have those records expunged if the crime wasn’t sexual in nature or a traffic offense. These offenses need to be misdemeanor charges only.  If you have been convicted of a felony or given jail time, you most likely won’t be eligible for an expungement.  And you can only have one offense expunged. If you get in trouble once you might be in luck, but a repeat offense won’t be allowed to be expunged.  The time frame for applying for an expungement of a criminal conviction is five years, but only one year for an arrest that ended with a Conditional Discharge.  That means you could once again have a spotless record.  If you were convicted of a crime and served any jail time, the five years begins once you have been released.

In order to proceed with the expungement filing, we will need certain information about the arrest and or conviction.  For example, the date of the offense, the court date, and a description of the offense.  The whole process takes approximately four months, so don’t wait until you are ready to fill out a job application to get started.

We are experienced attorneys and well versed in the expungement laws of the State of New Jersey.  Give us a call and we will be happy to help you.  Our quoted fees do not include court filing fees nor certified mailing postage.