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Can a Felony Be Expunged?

On Behalf of | Feb 14, 2022 | Criminal Law, Expungments

A felony can be expunged in New Jersey. In New Jersey, a person who commits a felony must wait five years from the date they completed their sentence, including payment of fines and completion of probation, to seek expungement. A person seeking misdemeanor expungement must also wait five years from the date they complete their sentence.

Early expungement is also allowed under New Jersey law. Early expungement is when a person who has committed a misdemeanor or felony applies to have their offense removed from their record early.

Under New Jersey’s early expungement laws, a person can request early expungement as follows:

  • Four years from completing their sentence for a felony, including payment of fines and probation completion.
  • Three years after completing their sentence for a misdemeanor.

What Are the Differences Between Standard and Early Expungement?

With a standard expungement, the petitioner does not need to prove that they deserve expungement. A judge will grant the petitioner’s request regardless of other considerations as long as it is after the required waiting time of five years.

With an early expungement, the court has discretion in granting the expungement. The petitioner must prove that they meet time requirements for early expungement and deserve it by presenting supporting evidence. A judge can either approve or deny the request.

Can All Felonies Be Expunged?

Not all felonies can be expunged. Serious criminal charges cannot be expunged, including:

  • Murder.
  • Kidnapping.
  • Luring or enticing.
  • Sexual assault.
  • Robbery.
  • Endangering the welfare of a child.
  • Certain drug distribution crimes.

Typical crimes that can be expunged include:

  • Drug possession/certain drug distribution offenses.
  • Aggravated or simple assault.
  • Harassment.
  • Theft, shoplifting.
  • Fraud.
  • Disorderly conduct.
  • Burglary.
  • Criminal mischief.
  • Weapons charges.

How Does Early Expungement Work?

Since most prosecutors in early expungement cases will object to the request, the petitioner will need evidence. Their lawyer must prepare a brief that clearly explains why they should be granted an early expungement.

Nearly all early expungement petitions require a court appearance. The petitioner’s lawyer will present oral arguments about why the petitioner deserves early expungement. The petitioner may also be called to testify.

An early expungement petitioner must present required documentary evidence to the court. If they fail to do so, their application can be denied. Documents include:

  • Court-required forms.
  • Character reference letters from people and organizations in the community.
  • Diplomas, awards, and certificates.
  • Proof of volunteer work, civic/charitable activities, and activities that limit the risk of re-offending.

Documents that show that the conviction has negatively affected your ability to get a job, enroll in school, or perform other activities.

The process between filing for an expungement and getting a final court order takes approximately three months. However, it may take several more months for all agencies to clear their files.

What Criteria Does a Judge Use in Considering Early Expungement?

A judge will consider the following factors in deciding whether to approve an expungement request.

Appropriate Time Requirement

The court will ensure that at least four years have passed since completing the sentence for a felony and at least three years have elapsed since completing the punishment for a misdemeanor.

Subsequent Convictions

The petitioner must not have had any felony or misdemeanor convictions since the original conviction. For misdemeanors, this includes disorderly or petty disorderly persons offenses. Early expungement is not allowed if you have been convicted of subsequent crimes.

Compelling Circumstances

The burden of proof is on the petitioner to present compelling circumstances or evidence that supports their request, including but not limited to:

  • Engagement in activities that limit the risk of re-offending, such as education, training, and community involvement.
  • Compliance with other legal obligations, such as child support.
  • Family and social relationships that encourage law-abiding behavior.
  • Severance of ties with criminals or people in a criminal environment.
  • Exemplary behavior in prison or while on probation.
  • Conduct and character before and after the conviction.
  • Evidence of how the conviction has affected the ability to live a productive, lawful life.
  • Number of years petitioner has remained offense-free.

South Jersey Expungement Lawyers at Agre & St. John Can Help You Get Your Criminal Record Expunged

Our South Jersey expungement lawyers at Agre & St. John help offenders seek expungement or early expungement. If you have a felony or other charge, we may be able to help. Call us at 856-428-7797 or contact us online for an initial consultation. Located in Haddonfield, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Burlington County, Camden County, Gloucester County, and Salem County.

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