How much does it cost to expunge a record? In New Jersey, the cost of an expungement varies based on the method you use. In this article, we will outline three common methods and the approximate costs associated with each.
Some people decide to apply for an expungement on their own. The New Jersey Court System provides a do-it-yourself expungement kit that outlines the process. Definitely check out the kit before deciding to use a diy company or hire a lawyer.
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The only monetary costs associated with this method are filing and mailing fees. Mailing fees can add up because you are required to use certified mail return receipt, which in 2016 costs $6.47 per mailing. Furthermore, if you do not have access to a printer or office supplies, you will have to pay for photocopying, envelopes, and stamps. A typical person may spend money on the following:
- Filing fee: $75
- Certified mail: $100
- Photocopying $20
- Envelopes/stamps $5
Total: $200. This is an estimated amount and costs vary by individual case. If you make a mistake on your forms, you will have to restart the entire process. The State might issue a refund for the filing fee, but you will have to pay the mailing fees again.
Using a DIY Service: ~$300-$500
Using a do-it-yourself service is a great way to make sure there are no mistakes on your forms. It is especially worthwhile if you case is simple. In addition to the mailing and filing costs, the company usually charges a fee of for the forms and support. You should expect the following from most of these companies:
- All the necessary forms completed and reviewed by an expungement expert
- Full and detailed mailing and filing instructions with pictures and diagrams
- Phone and email support whenever you have questions
- Notification of top criminal databases once your expungement is granted to ensure that your record is truly clear
Some companies will also offer a 100% money-back guarantee if the expungement is denied (does not include filing or mailing fees). Companies without a guarantee might have a low success rate or they may give faulty instructions in an attempt to convince you to hire a lawyer. In some instances it might be better to go with a lawyer then settle for a sub-standard product.
The cost for these services will vary between $100 to $300. When you add the mailing and photocopying costs, that comes up to $300-$500 in total
Hiring a Lawyer: ~$700-$2000
In some complex situations, it’s a good idea to speak with a lawyer. A lawyer will charge between $700 and $2000 for a New Jersey expungement and, in some instances, this does not include mailing and filing fees. Most lawyers do not have any kind of money-back guarantee policy, but this is usually not an issue unless your case requires a hearing. Since the process if relatively simple, you can sometimes get a good deal by negotiating.
The main advantage of hiring a lawyer is that you won’t have to do anything. The lawyer will take care of all the paperwork and correspondence with the court and make sure everything is done correctly. Remember, one wrong step and you’ll have to start over again. The benefit of having an experienced lawyer if that they will not make a mistake.