Mark M. Cheser 35 Years of Criminal Defense Experience
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Dismissals aren't the same as expungements

When you're convicted of a crime, you know that expungement is the only real way to clear your record. If your case has been dismissed, you may not think it's necessary to get an expungement, but that's not the case. Even if your case is dismissed by the courts, that doesn't mean that it won't appear on your record.

To have the case expunged, you'll need to seek an expungement motion. If expungement isn't an option, then your criminal record will show that you had a case dismissed.

As of 2016, DWI cases could not be expunged, because they were considered traffic offenses and not criminal offenses. However, it's possible to have the record sealed if you are arrested or charged without a conviction.

Does New Jersey offer expungement?

New Jersey offers expungements of criminal offenses. For example, if you're accused of having marijuana in your possession and face a first offense, you can ask for a conditional discharge of the case. While that discharge is good and shows you did not get a conviction, that record will still show up every time someone looks into your background.

To resolve issues that could come up as a result of the discharge, you need to seek an expungement motion. Since a marijuana charge is a misdemeanor and criminal in New Jersey, expungement rules apply. That allows you to seek the elimination of the charge from your record so that it no longer impacts your daily life, ability to get a job or other situations.

Is there a waiting period for expungements?

Yes. Typically, you'll have to wait at least two years before you can apply for an expungement if you have a conviction for a minor offense. If you have the case dismissed, then you can apply for expungement immediately to protect your reputation.

Expungements help keep your record clean. Don't ignore their benefits, since they can change the way you're perceived by employers and others around you.

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