EXPUNGEMENTS UNDER THE COMMON LAW OF NEW JERSEY

By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. a New Jersey Expungement Attorney

Under New Jersey common law, an expungement is a legal action in which a first time offender of a criminal conviction petitions a New Jersey court to have the records of that earlier legal matter sealed, thereby making the records unavailable through the state or Federal databanks. If successful, the records are “expunged”. Black’s Law Dictionary defines “expungement of a record” as the “Process by which record of criminal conviction is destroyed or sealed from a state or Federal repository.”[1] While expungement deals with an underlying criminal record, it is a civil action in which the subject is the petitioner or plaintiff asking a court to declare that the records be expunged.

A very real distinction exists between an expungement and a pardon. When an expungement is granted, the person whose record is expunged may treat the event as if it never occurred. A pardon (also called “executive clemency”), on the other hand, does not “erase” the event. Rather, it is a forgiveness. In the United States, an expungement can be granted only by a judge, while a pardon can be granted only by a governor (for state law offenses) or the President (for federal offenses).

New Jersey law allows expungement.  The state has its own definitions and rules for expungement proceedings. Generally, expungement is the process to “remove from general review” the records pertaining to a case. In many jurisdictions, however, the records may not completely “disappear” and may still be available to law enforcement, to sentencing judges on subsequent offenses, and to corrections facilities to which the individual may be sentenced on subsequent convictions.

Contact me personally today to discuss your New Jersey expungement matter.  I am easy to talk to, very approachable and can offer you practical, legal ways to handle your concerns.  You can reach me toll free at (855) 376-5291 or e-mail me at fniemann@hnlawfirm.com/.

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