Interviewer: What is an expungement?
Lauren Scardella: An expungement is the deletion of a person’s criminal record so that it no longer exists.
The Most Common Reason for Seeking an Expungement is Employment
Interviewer: Why would someone want to get an expungement?
Lauren Scardella: I think there are a lot of reasons, but the most common reason that people tell me is for employment reasons. People don’t want to have to put on job applications that they’ve ever been convicted of a criminal offense. There are other reasons too; I think most people just don’t like the idea of having a criminal record, which is understandable. And if they haven’t, had a whole lot go wrong in their lives in terms of their interaction with the criminal justice system, I think it is pretty reasonable to want to be able to put forward a clean record for whoever might want to look at it.
After an Expungement a Person Can Legally Claim that They’ve Never Been Arrested
Interviewer: Can an individual legally claim that they’ve never been convicted if they’ve had an expungement?
Lauren Scardella: If they’ve had an expungement then yes, they can legally state that they’ve never been convicted. They can also legally say that they’ve never been arrested. It gives you the legal right to say you have no criminal history. You may know it existed, but in the majority of cases you don’t have to tell anyone, and the records won’t exist anymore.
Certain Indictable Offenses Like Homicide or Human Trafficking are Ineligible for Expungement
Interviewer: If I’ve had a misdemeanor or a felony conviction, could I get an expungement?
Lauren Scardella: In New Jersey, what we have is indictable offenses and disorderly persons offenses. The terms are roughly equivalent to felony and misdemeanor, but New Jersey decided not to use those particular terms. Yes, in some instances, you can get an expungement for indictable offenses. There are certain indictable offenses which are ineligible like homicide, human trafficking, and certain sexual offenses, to name a few. So, not every person with an indictable offense is eligible for an expungement, but many are. There aren’t any disorderly persons offenses which are per se ineligible for expungement.
Exceptions to Expungement That People Are Typically Unaware Of
Interviewer: What are some of the other exceptions that people may not be aware of?
Lauren Scardella: Endangering the welfare of a child, possessing drugs the with intent to distribute or using a file sharing program to store items depicting child pornography, possession of child pornography, false swearing or perjury, terrorism, kidnapping, human trafficking, false imprisonment, and others. There is a full list of ineligible crimes under N.J.S.A. 2C:52-2(b).