How to Get a Misdemeanor Expunged

In New Jersey, when a record is expunged, it means that record is no longer available to the public. This does not mean that the record is erased; instead the record is moved to a special location unavailable to the public. Therefore, when people do searches through the courts, police or even FBI agencies, they will be unable to find information about your record. (NJS 2C:52-1).

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Misdemeanor offenses

A disorderly persons offense or petty disorderly persons offense is often referred to as a misdemeanor. The most frequent types of disorderly persons offenses are:

  • Simple Assault
  • Possession of Less than 50 Grams of Marijuana
  • Drug Paraphernalia
  • Harassment
  • Shoplifting
  • Disorderly Conduct
  • Resisting Arrest
  • Bad Checks
  • Lewdness

For the majority of misdemeanor convictions there is no presumption of prison time and most people are given probation and a fine. After you successfully complete your sentence, it’s important to consider expunging the record.

Requirements to Expunge a Misdemeanor

In order to be eligible to expunge a misdemeanor offense, an individual must meet the following requirements:

  • have no pending charges
  • have no more than 3 misdemeanor convictions in total OR, if the person has a felony conviction on his record, have no more than 2 misdemeanor convictions in total.
  • 5 years must have passed since the date of conviction, payment of fines, successful completion of probation, or release from incarceration (whichever is later). A new law that was passed in 2016 has shortened the waiting period to 3 years under the “public interest” exception. To meet that exception you must show evidence that you’ve been rehabilitated, which may include proof of a steady job or completion of school.

In other words, a misdemeanor conviction will follow an individual around for a minimum of 3 years (absent defense and/or a downgrade of the charge). (NJS 2C:52-3). Therefore, as soon as you’re eligible, you should considered expunging the charge from your record.

Misdemeanor Expungement Process

After the 5 or 3 year waiting period has expired and the other requirements have been met, you can petition or request that the conviction and all records and information pertaining to that conviction be expunged. The process to expunge a misdemeanor is the same as expunging a felony, dismissed case, or any other charge.

The petition is first mailed to the Superior court in the county in which the conviction occurred. Once a petition has been filed with the court, it may take a minimum of 3 months for the judge to grant the petition . In simple cases, such as one or two arrests, it is relatively easy to successfully receive an expungement.

For more information on the process, check out our complete guide to expungement.