Some Misconceptions Regarding Expungement

The sad truth is that people believe misinformation given by their lawyer, that their case or charge will automatically be expunged, so they don’t have to do anything, which is untrue in New Jersey. A case can be dismissed, but it’s not the same as an expungement. For example, someone charged with simple assault can go to court and have the charge dismissed by the judge, but if someone ran their criminal history, the cat will be out of the bag; it’s a misconception to think that a charge that was dismissed will automatically be expunged.

Another misconception is that an expungement means all records are destroyed, like they go into a shredder or incinerator, while New Jersey maintains those records to be used in certain limited statutory circumstances in the future. For example, if the person got arrested, charged and then participated in and successfully completed a pre-trial intervention, or PTI, which is a diversionary program, they can expunge it so that it could not be seen on the person’s criminal history, but 15 years down the road, if they are charged again, they may think the expungement means they can apply for PTI again, which isn’t true, since they can only receive PTI once. The records would still exist; it’s just that the general public can’t see it, but the court can.

Can A Police Officer See The Record During a Stop?

No, the police officer can’t see the record unless they did something shady; in the mobile data terminals in their car at the scene, they can usually just see if the person’s driving privileges are in can’t access anyone’s criminal history at the scene; they would actually have to go back to the station and log into their desktop computer.

Do Some Charges Fall Off After Some Time?

Criminal offenses in New Jersey are like crazy glue; they stick. Once someone is charged with a crime, it will never just fall off or go away, which is why I find it somewhat upsetting when people tell me their attorney told them to plead guilty because after five years the charge would be expunged automatically. There’s no such thing as an automatic expungement in New Jersey; charges stay on the person’s record until they petitioned the Superior Court of New Jersey for an expungement.

Can Someone Apply For A Job After Filing For Expungement?

If someone applies for an expungement and they want a particular job with a company they know won’t hire them with a conviction, they should not apply to that company until the expungement goes through because once they saw the charges, they can’t un-see them and they will still know about it even though it was expunged.

Is Someone Required To Tell A Police Officer About An Expungement?

My advice to anyone is, if a police officer asks whether they have been convicted, they shouldn’t answer the question, even if the officer chastises them and claims they’re obstructing justice because they never have to answer that question, but the honest answer to that question after an expungement is no. Let’s suppose they had expunged a conviction and then applied for a job with someone other than law enforcement or the judiciary; if the application asks if they’ve been arrested, charged or convicted of a crime, the truthful answer to all of these questions would be no.

There is another reason to not answer at all; I have seen situations in which the police officer asks someone they were investigating whether they had ever been arrested, and the person said no, but because the officer later found out they had actually been charged, they can claim the person lied to them, which means I have to get involved and tell the police officer it was not a lie, because after someone gets a record expunged, they can honestly say no.

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