Interviewer: Let’s say I had several charges and would that disqualify me from getting at least one expungement?
Lauren Scardella: If a person has been convicted of a crime, which means an indictable offense, and ten years have passed and they’ve only got the one indictable conviction and they haven’t been convicted of more than two disorderly persons offenses, then they can get an expungement. Now, if you have more than that, you just can’t have the expungement, period. So, if you’ve got three disorderly persons convictions and one indictable conviction, you can’t have anything expunged. There’s no way to expunge just one thing from your record. It’s all or nothing. With a public interest finding, a crime (indictable offense) can be expunged after five years.
A Petty Disorderly Person’s Offense Carries a 5 Year Waiting Period for Expungement
If your only convictions are disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offenses, then the statute says you have to wait five years and that you can’t have more than three other disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons convictions. With the same type of public interest finding as with crimes, disorderly persons offenses can be expunged after three years.
Expungement is Not a Selective Process in New Jersey
Interviewer: Can an attorney help me make that choice to see which one would be the better one to do if I had that?
Lauren Scardella: You’ve got to do them all. They’re going to look at the entire history. And if you have four disorderly persons offenses or one indictable offense and three disorderly persons offenses or two indictable offenses, the judge is going to say you’re not eligible for an expungement and deny the petition. However, the attorney can help you decide whether to apply under the “early pathways” provisions which allow you to get your offenses expunged early with a public interest finding made by the judge.
Differentiation Between Disorderly Persons Offense and an Indictable Offense
Interviewer: What is the difference between a disorderly persons offense and an indictable offense?
Lauren Scardella: An indictable offenses is like a felony in other states. Indictable offenses are the only offenses in New Jersey that are technically considered crimes, though other types of offenses appear in Title 2C, which is the New Jersey criminal code. They are graded first through fourth degrees, with first being the most serious and fourth being the least serious. They’re always handled in Superior Court. And they all have the potential for time in state prison. A disorderly person’s offense is not a crime though under the criminal code. It has a maximum fine of $1,000 and a maximum of six months in jail. A petty disorderly person’s offense has a maximum fine of $500 and a maximum of thirty days in jail.