How to Expunge my Public Records in New Jersey

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In New Jersey, a party named on a public record that is eligible for an expungement can legally delete their record by successfully obtaining and distributing copies of judicially-approved Expungement Orders to designated agencies. A public record is said to be deleted if it is sealed and made unavailable for viewing or copying by the general public. It is important to note that records are not entirely erased from the state's archives when they are deleted from public view. Law enforcement agents and prosecutors may be able to view and copy confidential records in the course of their duties. To successfully delete public records in New Jersey, the interested person will need to present a strong argument stating the reason for wanting to remove such a record.

There are different reasons a person might want a public record removed. Some of these include:

What is a Public Record in New Jersey?

According to the New Jersey Inspection of Public Records Act, public records include any written or printed material, document, photograph, map, plan, drawing, microfilm, or e-documents (information made, stored, or maintained electronically, via sound-recording or any similitude) created or maintained on file in the course of official business by or for a public officer, commission, or agency.

Public records are open for the sake of transparency. According to the state statute, members of the public have the right to know and inspect certain government activities. The reason is to ensure that there is no breach of trust between public agencies and the constituents they serve. However, some information maintained by government offices is not available for inspection because, according to state laws, they are confidential. Examples of such include:

  • Medical examiner records
  • Records of criminal investigations
  • Crime victim’s records
  • Trade secrets and proprietary information
  • Any records covered under attorney-client privilege
  • Records containing information on the discharge of military servicemen
  • Information on security measures and techniques
  • Employee contract negotiations complaints, and grievances

Under certain conditions, a person may be eligible to remove a record, such that it would look like the record or circumstances surrounding the event never occurred. This process is known as expungement.

Does New Jersey Allow Expungement?

Yes, New Jersey allows expungement. However, expungement does not completely erase a person's record. Instead, a successful expungement in New Jersey will seal a record such that it will no longer be available through state or county repositories.

How Do I Expunge My Criminal Record in New Jersey?

Under New Jersey Statute § 2C:52-1 through N.J.S.A. § 2C:52-32, eligible individuals can file for expungement of certain criminal records such as indictable offenses, disorderly person offenses, and local ordinance violations. A person may also file to expunge arrest records related to these offenses.

The first step in a New Jersey criminal records expungement is to file a Petition for Expungement contained in the New Jersey Courts Expungement Packet. The petition should be filed at the Superior Court in the county where the prosecution or arrest took place. Eligible parties may employ qualified attorneys, apply for legal aid at the county, or choose to represent themselves in court. To prepare an expungement petition, the defendant will need to locate the records in question and provide the following information:

  • The date of the arrest or apprehension
  • The statute(s) and the offense(s) that warranted the arrest, conviction, or adjudication
  • The original indictment, accusation, summons, docket number, warrant number, or complaint number.
  • The date of the disposition
  • The specific punishment for the offense.

The person filing for expungement can contact the attorney that defended the case or visit the Office of the Superior Court Criminal Case Management in the county where the arrest or conviction took place. For juvenile delinquencies, the interested party can contact the Superior Court Family Division Office in the county of apprehension or visit the law enforcement authority related to the incident (if there were no charges filed). As an alternative, the person can call the New Jersey State Police on (877) 503-5981 to schedule an appointment for fingerprint background checks. A background check will display available information about a criminal record. Juvenile records are also obtainable by calling the Criminal Information Unit on (609) 882-2000 ext. 2918.

Upon locating the record and obtaining the needed information, the next step is to complete and submit three different forms called; Petition for Expungement, Order for Hearing, and Expungement Order. The requesting party must submit two copies of each form to the court and keep one copy as proof. These documents must come with a Cover Letter that describes the content on these forms and the reason for submitting them. The cover letter must include a self-addressed, stamped envelope unless the party files for expungement in person. The court charges $52.50 as the filing fee.

The court will return a copy of the first three forms. The Order of Hearing form will contain the date and time of the hearing. After receiving the filed copies from the court, the requesting party will need to make at least seven additional copies of the three documents and mail a copy of each to:

  • The Attorney General of New Jersey.
  • The Superintendent of the State Police, Expungement Unit.
  • The County Prosecutor.
  • The Clerk of the Municipal Court (if a Municipal Court handled the case)
  • The Chief of Police of the Police Department in the municipality where the offense was committed or the arrest was made.
  • The Chief Law Enforcement of the agency that made the arrest.
  • The Warden or Superintendent of the jail facility or institution of incarceration
  • The County Probation Division (if granted a conditional discharge)
  • The Division of Criminal Justice, Records, and Identification Unit (if the case was processed through the State Grand Jury)
  • The County Family Division (for expungement of juvenile matters)

It is advisable to submit a Cover Letter together with each mailed document. All documents should be mailed within five days from the date of receiving the signed documents from the court. Failure to do so terminates the whole process.

The next step is to submit a Proof of Notice Form included in the Expungement Packet on the day of hearing or prior to that day, depending on what the court decides. The applicant must attend the court hearing. It is advisable to contact the court before the assigned date to confirm if the date is still on schedule or whether the court has postponed the hearing.

If the judge gives an Expungement Order, the next step is to make at least seven copies of the signed form and mail them to:

  • The Attorney General of New Jersey.
  • The Superintendent of the State Police, Expungement Unit.
  • The County Prosecutor.
  • The Clerk of the Municipal Court (if a Municipal Court handled the case)
  • The Chief of Police of the Police Department in the municipality where the offense was committed or the arrest was made.
  • The Chief Law Enforcement of the agency that made the arrest.
  • The Warden or Superintendent of the jail facility or institution of incarceration
  • The County Probation Division (if granted a conditional discharge)
  • The Division of Criminal Justice, Records, and Identification Unit (if the case was processed through the State Grand Jury)
  • The County Family Division (for expungement of juvenile matters)

As with the first submission, the party may also submit a Cover Letter.

Will My Expungement Record Show up on a Background Check in New Jersey?

New Jersey expungement records will not show on an official background check and sometimes a Non-FCRA Compliant background check. In fact, under New Jersey Statute § 2C:52-27 (2018), one can legally deny the existence of a criminal record if an expungement was filed successfully, except in some cases. For example, an expunged record can be used for future criminal proceedings to determine bail or sentencing. Law enforcement, corrections, or courts may also consider an expunged record when a person applies for a job.

How to Seal a Record in New Jersey

In order to seal a record in New Jersey, the applicant is required to submit a notice of the motion to the court where they intend to make a petition. The court will then return signed documents to be directed to the respective agencies that have jurisdiction over the record and provide a date of hearing. A judge will grant the petition if there are enough grounds to seal the record.

The process of New Jersey arrest record sealing is the same as with sealing criminal records and other court records.

Who Can See My Sealed Record in New Jersey?

It is possible to seal a record in New Jersey. A sealed record will not show on a standard record search, meaning that such record is concealed from members of the public by court order. However, sealing does not automatically destroy the record. In New Jersey, sealed records remain available to law enforcement agencies and the court where the case originated from. Third parties may also file a petition to unseal a court record under certain circumstances.

How to Delete Bankruptcy Records in New Jersey

It is impossible to remove a legitimate bankruptcy record from a credit report in New Jersey unless there is an error in reporting, if the bankruptcy was inaccurately entered, or the report has exceeded its legal staying time. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy record stays on a credit report for a maximum of ten years, while a Chapter 13 record remains for up to seven years. However, the FCRA does make provisions for challenging a bankruptcy report if the party notices any discrepancies.

The first thing to do is contact the United States Bankruptcy Trustee's Office. The party who intends to clear a bankruptcy record must file a report, which the Bankruptcy Trustee's Office would then refer to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The FBI will reopen the case and the individual or organization can defend their claim in court with substantial evidence.

What are Consumer Protection Laws in New Jersey

The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, through its Office of Consumer Protection, has some statutes and regulations in place with which it ensures that consumers do not fall victim to deceitful and fraudulent practices. Some of these legislations include:

  • Charitable Registration and Investigation Act: This act makes it mandatory that information on the revenue and expenditure of charitable organizations in the state be made readily available to the citizens of the state. It, therefore, requires charitable organizations, solicitors, and professional fundraisers to register with the Attorney General of the state. It further empowers the Attorney General to obtain and make public information on these persons’ fundraising activities.
  • The Consumer Fraud Act: This law seeks to protect consumers in the state against unscrupulous and deceitful business practices. It protects the consumer against affirmative misrepresentation, knowing concealment of material fact, and other categories of financial violations. This law imposes what is known as “treble damages'' against the business or party if found guilty; that is, the business pays the consumer triple the value of damages incurred by the consumer. Furthermore, the guilty business will be made to pay the attorney fees of the consumer.
  • Identity Theft Prevention Act: This comprehensive Act is in place to protect New Jersey citizens from the dangers of identity theft crimes if their personal information is compromised.
  • New Jersey Personal Information Privacy and Protection Act: This is a personal information protection Act that seeks to restrict access to and use of consumers’ sensitive personal information. This act restricts the purposes for which merchants may collect and store, and share consumers’ private personal information with third parties. For example, merchants may only collect consumers’ personal data for identity verification purposes and keep them secure. The retailer may only share such information with the consumers’ knowledge and approval.

Other consumer protection laws enacted by the state of New Jersey include the Internet Dating Safety Act, the Contractors’ Registration Act, and the Predatory Towing Prevention Act.

How to Delete Lien Records in New Jersey

There are different ways to delete a lien record in New Jersey. The most common of these is to pay off outstanding debts. The party who wants to pay off the amount on a judgment or standard lien should contact the holder of the lien and try and open a negotiation to reduce the amount owed or roll out a manageable payment plan. After completing payment, the next step is to complete a New Jersey Certificate to Discharge Lien Claim of Record (or New Jersey Mechanics Lien Release Form for private properties) within 30 days after satisfying the lien. The form should be directed to the County Clerk's office that filed the original lien.

Secondly, one can petition a court to remove the lien on the property. Only under certain conditions will a judge remove the lien. Usually, this depends on factors such as the state and nature of the property in question and state laws such as New Jersey Statutes 2A:14-5, § 2A:26-9, and § 2A:26-11.

Another option is to simply run out the New Jersey Statute of Limitations. Under state laws, a judgment lien remains on a property for 20 years.

In New Jersey, citizens are allowed to conduct lien searches. To find a motor vehicle lien, citizens have to fill out a form for motor vehicle lien search, attach a photocopy of their driver’s license and a $15 check or money order, and mail it to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission Certified Information Unit at:

225 East State Street

P.O. Box 146

Trenton, NJ 08666-0146

To perform other property lien searches in New Jersey, residents may contact their County Clerk’s Office or the Register of Deeds’ Office.

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