Garces Grabler
Better Business Bureau


“Not Guilty”, “Dropped” and “Dismissed” – These are Records?

Many individuals mistakenly believe that because their convictions are old they are irrelevant. Alternatively, many believe that because their charges were dropped, dismissed after they completed PTI or some other diversionary program, or because they received a conditional discharge, their records were automatically cleared Not so!

Criminal records of all kinds, just like the convictions themselves, are “cleared” only when they are ordered expunged by the superior court.

An expungement is a separate, post-sentence process which begins with the timely filing of a verified petition and ends when all involved agencies receive a final Expungement Order signed by a county judge.

This final order that we may obtain for you would force all agencies involved in your incident(s) to erase their records from private sector scrutiny and allow you to legally answer “No” to the question, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?”

First Step: Eligibility

Before preparing your expungement petition, eligibility must first be determined. Our experienced attorneys routinely obtain comprehensive criminal background checks detailing the same type of information that prospective employers or any private citizen would ordinarily be able to review without an expungement. Your records will then be reviewed by our experienced criminal defense attorneys in order to determine your eligibility and timing for an expungement.

back to top

Offense Classifications & Waiting Periods for Convictions

Waiting Periods for Records Not Resulting in a Conviction

Special Topics


back to top

Records of Conviction — waiting periods for eligible expungement petitions

Indictable Crimes – 10 years after sentence completion

back to top

Disorderly Persons/Petty Disorderly Persons – 5 years after sentence completion

back to top

Juvenile Offenses – 5 years after sentence completion

Same as Indictable, Young Drug Offender and/or Disorderly Persons offenses, except committed by someone under the age of 18 and therefore adjudicated in the Superior Court of New Jersey – Family Part.

back to top

Municipal Ordinance Violations – 2 years after sentence completion

back to top


Young Drug Offenders – 1 year after sentence completion

New Jersey law provides a special category for defendants who were between the ages of 18 though 21 when they were convicted of:

There are two situations that cause disqualification:

back to top

Arrests & Non-Convictions — waiting periods for eligible expungement petitions

Arrest Records (Dropped/Dismissed Charges)

Your appearance was made in Municipal Court which resulted in a private citizen or municipal prosecutor requesting the court to drop or dismiss all charges, a record of the proceedings still remain in tact unless it was expunged.

We can expunge these types of records for you at any time, even if you have prior convictions and/or expungements.

back to top

Dismissals by way of Completing Diversionary Programs

A dispute may have occurred between you and your spouse which resulted in police intervention despite assurances that everything was “OK”. The police were compelled to file a criminal complaint. At Municipal Court, the judge dismissed the case after you completed a successful anger/alcohol management program. You think you now earned a clean record — think again. Without an expungement, your record still exists along with all filed police reports.

We can expunge this type of record for you immediately after your case is dismissed and if no subsequent conviction occurred.

back to top

Dismissed Charges after Successful Completion of a Pretrial Intervention Program

Superior Courts often afford first time offenders of lesser felonies an opportunity to participate in the Pretrial Intervention Program. You successfully completed your PTI probationary term after 1 to 3 years - you paid your fines, you did your community service and you have a court order dismissing your accusation or indictment. You may think it’s over and your record is clean – think again.

With our assistance, an Order of Expungement can be obtained for you to protect all records of this incident from the private sector/employers.

We can expunge your record after six months have lapsed from the issuance of the Order of Dismissal and if no subsequent conviction occurred.

back to top

Conditional Discharges

Municipal Courts often afford a first time drug offender an opportunity to participate in a conditional discharge program. An individual can get minor drug charges dismissed at the end of the 6 to 18 month term; as long as no additional convictions arise within the term, all fines and fees are paid to the municipal court, and all random drug screenings required by the probation department have been passed. While this route may save someone from losing their driver’s license for 6 months to 2 years, the successful discharge does not in and of itself erase all records of the incident. These public records can still be discovered through investigation by the private sector/employers.

With our assistance an Order for Expungement can be obtained to protect your privacy from the general public and current or prospective employers within the private sector. Your petition can be submitted six months after your matter has been formally dismissed by the municipal court assuming that no subsequent convictions occurred.

back to top

Dismissals by Plea Bargain

The cornerstone of our judicial process revolves around successful plea bargaining. Without it many would be forced to endure more extensive punishments and the sheer volume of cases would grind the entire judicial system to a halt. In exchange for a guilty plea to one charge the state often will dismiss others. Unfortunately the dismissed charges cling to the conviction. Therefore de facto legal surgery is required to separate the convicted charges from the dismissed charges. Once we expunge the convicted charges for you only then can we proceed with an additional expungement in order to completely clear your record of arrest of the dismissed charges.

We can begin the process for you after five years from the final order of dismissal if the underlying conviction was a disorderly/petty disorderly persons offense or ten years if it was a crime.

back to top

Special Topics

Multiple Incidents

If you have multiple convictions your eligibility for an expungement of your entire records will depend upon what type of and how many offenses or separate incidents are involved. Another factor is whether you had a previous expungement granted.

Once an expungement of a Pretrial Intervention or Conditional Discharge is granted, you cannot get subsequent criminal or offense convictions expunged.

If you had multiple incidents involving arrests only then you can have those records expunged at any time and regardless if an expungement was previously granted.

back to top

Sentence Completion

The date you completed your entire sentence is the date your waiting period for eligibility begins. “Sentence” includes: the filing of a Judgment of Conviction (JOC), payment of all costs, fines and restitution, satisfactory completion of a probationary period and period of incarceration.

If, for example, the last payment of your fine was made on January 2, 2000 but your community service was not completed until six months later, then your are eligible to have our office petition for your expungement as of January 2, 2001.

back to top

Objections and Grounds for Denial

Expungement petitions “don’t go through” when statutory prerequisites are not met. In other words:

  1. You are eligible but the information provided in your petition is incomplete and/or inaccurate as a result of omissions.
  2. The submission of your petition is untimely, i.e. submitted too soon in which case we will need to amend and re-file your petition or wait until you reach your eligibility date.
  3. You are not eligible for an expungement by law.

It is important to obtain information about any and all of your incidents right from the start. This is not only important from the get go in terms of knowing where you stand with eligibility and timing, but it also prevents unnecessary and inevitable delays and/or objections. Even though we can petition to expunge your New Jersey incidents only, any and all other incidents anywhere in the United States must be included in all Petitions.

back to top

Here are some typical examples of why petitions are returned for refilling or denied:

Omitted Information

back to top

Untimely Submittals – Eligible Otherwise

back to top


back to top


  1. What is an expungement?
  2. Am I eligible?
  3. How long do I have to wait?
  4. Who has access to my records? How?
  5. My charges were dropped before trial – do I have a record?
  6. My case was tried in court and I was found “not guilty” – do I have a record?
  7. What kinds of records cannot be expunged?
  8. I was in involved in more than one incident – can they all be expunged?
  9. Can I have more than one expungement?
  10. Where do I begin?
  11. What happens after a final order for expungement is granted?
  12. Can just anyone access records once they are expunged?
back to top

1. What is an expungement?

As defined by New Jersey Statutes Annotated 2C:52-1 et.seq. an expungement is the extraction and isolation of all records on file within any court, detention or correctional facility, law enforcement or criminal justice agency concerning a person’s detection, apprehension, arrest, detention, trial or disposition of an offense within the criminal justice system. Expunged records shall include records include complaints, warrants, arrests, commitments, processing records, fingerprints, photographs, index cards, “rap sheets” and judicial docket records.

When a judge of the superior court grants an expungement, it is as if all matters relating to a person’s detection, apprehension, arrest, detention, trial or disposition of an offense never occurred, with limited exceptions.

back to top

2. Am I eligible?

In order to determine your eligibility we must first obtain records of any/all offenses that you were ever involved in (arrests only, charges without a conviction, convictions) anywhere in the U.S.

Once all of your records have been obtained, the next step is determining the nature of the offenses. This stage is critical because the outcome, number and combination of offense types will determine your expungement eligibility status, when your petition can be submitted, and feasibility.

If multiple offenses are involved your eligibility for an expungement will depend on several factors some of which are: whether you have one or more than one conviction, the types of offenses involved (i.e. indictable, juvenile, disorderly persons or municipal ordinance convictions), and the time lapse of your sentence completion dates.

Other important factors are out-of-state records, prior expungements, any pending charges and related pending civil cases.

Certain indictable convictions cannot be expunged under any circumstances: Criminal Homicide (Death by Auto is the only homicide that may be expunged), aggravated sexual assault, robbery, arson and perjury - nor can conspiracies or attempts to commit any of the above crimes.

You cannot expunge any record of not guilty findings by reason of insanity.

back to top

3. How long to I have to wait?

Charges that were dismissed unconditionally (or “dropped”) – no waiting period.

Arrests without conviction - any time after the acquittal or dismissal (except by way of plea bargain) of the charges.

If your charges were dismissed after you completed a supervisory treatment program you must wait 6 months from the date of dismissal of your charges.

Charges Dismissed By Plea Bargaining – 6 months (You must expunge the charges you plead guilty to first, and then you can expunge the arrest record of your dismissed charges.)

If you were convicted, waiting periods vary according to the type of offense and start after sentence completion (including the final Judgment of Conviction). The categories are as follows:

back to top

4. Who has access to my records?

The general public, including but not limited to current and/or prospective employers within the private sector, lending institutions, credit card companies – anyone.

back to top

5. My charges were dropped before trial – do I have a record?

Yes. Unfortunately there still remains a record of the original complaint, the dismissal as well as any/all police records and witness statements that were generated - unless an order for an expungement is obtained.

back to top

6. My case was tried in court and I was found “not guilty” – do I have a record?

Yes. Unfortunately there still remains a record of the original complaint, the dismissal as well as any/all police records and witness statements that were generated - unless an order for an expungement is obtained.

back to top

7. What kinds of offenses cannot be expunged?

Motor Vehicle Code violations cannot be expunged because they are not criminal offenses. If you were pulled over for speeding, for example and ultimately charged with speeding, providing false information to a law enforcement officer and hindering apprehension (both of which can be disorderly persons offenses) the speeding charge cannot be expunged while the two disorderly persons charges are within the scope of an expungement.

Indictable convictions such as arson, kidnapping, murder, perjury, rape, robbery, CDS convictions over 25 grams of marijuana or 5 grams of hashish cannot be expunged.

It should be noted that an expungement cannot prevent the following state and or federal agencies from learning about an expunged dismissed complaint and/or conviction:

  1. State agencies and institutions such as the Real Estate Commission, Department of Banking and Insurance and the Motor Vehicle Commission (formerly DMV)
  2. Civil Domestic Violence complaints
  3. Department of Homeland Security (formerly Immigration and Naturalization Services)
back to top

8. I was in involved in more than one incident – can all of those records be expunged?

Expunging multiple incidents is allowed by law but depends upon 4 key factors:

  1. How many convictions one has - in New Jersey and anywhere else in the U.S.
  2. The types of offenses involved - Crime, Young Drug Offender, Juvenile, Disorderly Persons, Municipal Ordinance
  3. Generally 4 outcomes – arrests or filed complaints without subsequent conviction, dismissals by way of diversionary programs, dismissals by way of plea bargaining and actual convictions.
  4. Prior expungements can affect your eligibility.

A conditions and convictions analysis is a vital component to determining expungement eligibility. The number of arrests without a conviction, unconditionally dropped or dismissed charges and/or findings of not guilty are not “counted”. There is no restriction as to the total number that could bar you from an expungement. The only categories of expungements that are inexhaustible are acquittals and dismissals that do not involve diversionary programs, such as PTI and conditional discharges.

Aside from convictions, what “counts” considerably are charges that are conditionally dismissed. Enrollment and completion of a supervisory treatment or other diversion program or because of a plea agreement can have certain restrictions when it comes to expunging records.

back to top

9. I’ve already had one expungement – can another one be done?

An additional petition for an expungement is possible as long as the applicant remains eligible.

back to top

10. Where do I begin?

Requesting your records is the first step toward determining your eligibility for an expungement.
Here’s what you need to do:

1) Arrange to go to your local police station to complete two Applicant Fingerprint Cards – State and Federal.

2) Submit both record requests, each with its own 1) cover letter 2) completed Applicant Fingerprint Card 3) self-addressed stamped envelope and 4) proper payment (no personal checks).

3) In 2 to 6 weeks you can expect to receive two separate response packets. Save the entire packet, including the response mailing envelopes.

Once all of your records are obtained from all necessary sources, the next step is to retain services of our firm to review your records with you in order to determine the types of offenses involved as well as to spot other legal issues that assist in the eligibility analysis.

Once your eligibility is confirmed, we prepare your Verified Petition for an Expungement. A petition must provide the court and every other agency involved in all of your incidents verified information concerning all of your incidents anywhere in the U.S. – even though you are seeking to expunge eligible incidents in New Jersey only.

To prevent unnecessary delays, foreseeable objections and/or denials of your petition the most important thing at this stage is that there are no omissions of any kind and that you are not filing your petition untimely.

Once we prepare your Verified Petition, it is carefully reviewed with you and our experienced attorneys so that it can be notarized as accurate. We then submit it to the Superior Court with supporting with supporting documents, a cover letter and a check for filing fees.

A disposition can be obtained from the Municipal Court where your matter was heard. Fees typically range from $4.00 to $10.00. Some courts do not charge a fee.

The county prosecutor generally has information regarding arrests or convictions for indictable offenses. A judgment of conviction may be obtained from the Criminal Clerk of the Superior Court where your matter was heard.

The court will then file your petition and set a hearing date usually within the next 35-60 days. During this period, all of the agencies involved with your charges are notified in accordance with the law and have until your hearing date to object or not object. The court clerk will examine the documents for any procedural deficiencies and allow for corrections to be made. Additionally, the prosecutor will notify us and the Court of any objections. If an objection occurs there are a few options: convince the State to withdraw their objection, file a legal brief to advance our position, or withdraw the expungement application before it is officially denied in order to reassess.

After your hearing date (with no objections), the remaining processing usually takes another 15 days. During this time the agents are provided with your final Order for Expungement.

back to top

What if I have more than one offense in different counties?

We can request to have one county review cases from other jurisdictions too.

How long will the process take?

All of your records are located, requested and received; Your petition is generated, reviewed, revised if necessary and notarized; The initial court package is assembled and submitted.

Once the court receives the initial package (which contains our Petition for your Expungement, other documents and a check to cover filing fees), we expect a return package, which includes an order for a hearing scheduled within 35 to 60 days. This allows time for the generation, review and exchange of various legal documents between court, our firm and all agencies involved and sets the deadline by which the county prosecutor and/or agencies must notify the court of any objections and for what reason.

After a hearing with no objections, the remaining time is usually no more than 15 days. Again, this allows time for the exchange of all certified correspondence and legal documents pertaining to your Final Order for Expungement between court, our firm and the agencies.

back to top

11. What happens once a final order for expungement is granted?

After we obtain your Order for an Expungement and all parties involved have been properly notified, all of your records are removed from the respective files and “sealed”.

You are entitled by law to answer on most job applications, school applications, credit applications, military service applications as if the arrest and/or conviction never occurred. When filing out such applications wherein you are asked if you have a criminal record you may answer “no”.

The response to requests for information or records of the person who has their arrest, related proceedings or conviction expunged will be “there is no record information”.

back to top

12. Limited situations where you must disclose information:

  1. On an application involving a position within a Judicial Branch, Law Enforcement or Correctional Agency.
  2. If any law enforcement officer asks you about previous arrests or convictions, you must tell them what record(s) you had expunged.
  3. If you are seeking an expungement for an indictable conviction, you must disclose that a previous expungement was ordered (i.e. arrest without conviction.)
  4. When seeking acceptance into a supervisory or other diversionary program you must disclose to a judge any expungements of prior charges that were dismissed because of your previous satisfactory completion of a supervisory treatment or other diversion.
  5. Immigration applications.

To speak with an experienced attorney immediately concerning an Expungement call us toll free at 1–800–923–3456 or contact us to discuss your legal matter today.

  • Administrative Law
  • Appellate law
  • Bankruptcy
  • Consumer Law
  • Divorce & Family Matters
  • DWI
  • Employment Law
  • Cancellations
  • Immigration
  • Municipal Court
  • Landlord Tenant Law
  • Auto Accident
  • Construction Accident
  • Dog Bites/Animal Attacks
  • Fall Downs
  • Medical Malpractice
  • Negligent Security
  • Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect
  • Product Liability
  • Public Transportation Accident
  • Victims of Violent Crimes Comp
  • Worker's Compensation
  • Wrongful Death
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Business Formation
  • Business Transactions
  • Collections
  • Contract Dispute Litigation

  • Sitemap