We are often asked by potential clients “how long will it take to receive my expungement?”
We understand that in many cases, one’s past criminal record may be hurting the chances of getting a job or causing other delays/problems, and everyone would as soon “have it over with” as quickly as possible. People also often call us as they wish to apply for a NJ gun permit, and need old offenses expunged to prevent any problems/issues with their firearms purchaser application.
New Jersey has one of the most “liberal” expungement statutes in the United States, as outgoing Gov. Corzine in 2010 radically expanded the type and extent of offenses which may be expunged in NJ, and shortened the waiting periods as well.
However, the expungement process itself is far from perfect. Unlike the corporate & business world, the legal system in many ways remains mired in the past. Before the judge signs your Final Expungement Order, our office is required to notify by Certified Mail, (Return Receipt Requested) over half a dozen or more government agencies and offices. We are required to send these agencies/offices a copy of:
1. Your Petition for Expungement;
2. The “Notice of Hearing” date;
3. Your signed Verification;
4. A proposed Final Order of Expungement.
Typically, we are required to serve the above expungement documents via Certified Mail upon the original Court which sentenced you, the original arresting Police Department & Chief of Police, the NJ State Police Expungement Unit, the office of the NJ Attorney General, the original prosecutor who handled your case, and any other agency or office the Court orders us to serve. If you are expunging multiple offenses, it’s easy to see how time-consuming this process can be. The Court will not allow us to simply email or fax these documents- they must be sent certified mail and signed for, and the return postcards sent back to us.
After we serve these agencies via certified mail, our office then has to wait to receive back all of the green Certified Mail return receipt postcards, which prove that the agencies signed for and received a copy of your expungement paperwork. We must then mail to the Court which is handling your Expungement the “stack” of Certified Mail postcards as “proof” that we mailed everyone your paperwork as the Court so ordered.
The reason for all of this certified mailing it that the agencies involved in your original criminal case (i.e, the municipal court prosecutor, municipal court administrator, etc) have the opportunity and right to object to your expungement being granted. In reality, however, objections to an expungement are extremely rare. Most prosecutors don’t really care if your marijuana possession case from the “bell bottom” era of 1978 is expunged from the criminal records of New Jersey.
Once we send the Court all of your certified mail postcards, we then wait to receive a signed, official copy of your Final Order of Expungement. Upon receipt of the Order, we then have to AGAIN send a copy of the Order certified mail on all the agencies/offices AGAIN, so that they can remove your records from their files, records, and databases.
Usually about 2 months after we serve the Final Order, our office finally receives a formal letter from the NJ State Police Expungement Unit that the process is complete and your records have been removed from the NJ State Police Criminal History file. This means that, from here on out, if anyone conducts a NJ Criminal History search of your name, it will come up “No Criminal History Found.”
The entire process usually takes three to four months, but sometimes as much as 6 months depending on the County in which you seek the expungement. As a general rule, Warren, Sussex & Hunterdon county tend to process expungements fairly quickly, as do most South Jersey counties. North NJ counties such as Bergen, Essex, and Passaic tend to be slower, as they handle a much higher volume of expungements due to their populations and general judicial back-log.
Call us at 908-782-5313 to get started on your expungement today !