Interviewer: How long does it actually take to get an expungement? What is the process like?
Lauren Scardella: Usually, we tell our clients that the expungement process will take approximately four months, although it can be longer. Occasionally I’ve seen them take much longer, but rarely do they take less than four months from beginning to end.
Expungement is a Once in a Lifetime Process in New Jersey
Interviewer: How many times could one get an expungement or get something expunged? Is that one time only?
Lauren Scardella: One time in their entire life. In a New Jersey petition for expungement petitioner has to swear under oath in an affidavit that they have never received an expungement anywhere else before, whether in New Jersey or any other jurisdiction. I suppose there is the potential that in another state where they are not forced to make that statement that they could receive another expungement, but in New Jersey, it’s one and done.
In the State of New Jersey the Only Way to Have Something Sealed is to Obtain an Expungement
Interviewer: What’s the difference between an expungement and getting something sealed?
Lauren Scardella: In New Jersey, you can’t get anything sealed unless you’re talking about a juvenile record. The only way to keep something from showing up on a criminal background check is to have an expungement.
Obstacles to Obtaining an Expungement in New Jersey
Interviewer: What are some barriers that could get in the way during this process?
Lauren Scardella: Well one problem we’ve had in the past with some of our clients is that they either forget to tell us about things in their past or they purposely don’t tell us about things in their past or they think that it’s already gone away somehow or they don’t remember it. So, sometimes, what happens is that we send the petition out without complete information. Attorneys in New Jersey don’t have access to criminal histories, so we’re really limited to what the client tells us.
The Prosecutor’s Office May Object to an Expungement if Any Information is Left Out
When the petition goes out and it’s got incomplete information, the prosecutor’s office will object to the expungement and will require us to amend it so that the additional information is included, which can really slow the process down. Most of the time in New Jersey, expungement is a right as long as the required time period has passed. So, generally speaking, the only objections we ever get from the prosecutor’s office is if something is left out.