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What Is Early Expungement?

In New Jersey, expungement is when a person who has committed a misdemeanor or felony applies to have their offense removed from their record early. Generally, 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. Generally, a person seeking expungement of a misdemeanor must also wait five years from the date they completed their sentence. Under New Jersey’s early expungement statutes, a person can request early expungement four years from completing their sentence for a felony, or three years after completion of their sentence for a misdemeanor.

Is There a Difference Between Standard and Early Expungement?

With standard 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 the necessary time required for early expungement. They must also prove that they deserve it by presenting evidence that supports their request. A judge can either approve or deny the request.

What Evidence Do I Need?

Since most prosecutors in early expungement cases are most likely to object to the request, you will need evidence that supports why you deserve the expungement. Your lawyer will need to prepare a brief that clearly explains why you deserve an early expungement. In addition, nearly all early expungement petitions require a court appearance. At this appearance, your lawyer will need to present oral arguments about why you deserve early expungement. You may also be called to testify on your own behalf. An early expungement petitioner must also present documentary evidence to the court. If they fail to do so, their application can be denied. Your lawyer can help you collect evidence in support of your early expungement petition, including:

  • Character reference letters from people and organizations in your community, such as religious leaders, teachers and professors, heads of volunteer organizations, and similar individuals.
  • Diplomas, awards, and certificates.
  • Proof of volunteer work or civic/charitable activities.
  • Proof of involvement in activities that limit the risk of re-offending.
  • Documents that show that your conviction has negatively affected your ability to get a job, enroll in school, or perform other activities.

How Does the Court Decide Whether to Approve an Early Expungement?

The judge assigned to your case will use the following factors to decide whether to approve or deny an early expungement request:

  • Time requirement: The court will ensure that at least four years have passed since completing the sentence for a felony, or at least three years have elapsed since completing the punishment for a misdemeanor.
  • Subsequent convictions: You must not have had any felony or misdemeanor convictions since the time of 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 you and your lawyer to present compelling circumstances or evidence that supports your request. A court will consider engagement in activities that limit the risk of re-offending, such as education, training, and community involvement among other compelling circumstances.

South Jersey Expungement Lawyers at Agre & St. John Can Help You Explore Early Expungement Options

In many cases, a crime can be expunged from a person’s record earlier than prescribed by law. It takes the knowledge of an experienced lawyer to make that happen. If you have questions about early expungement, contact our South Jersey expungement lawyers at Agre & St. John. 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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