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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi all,

Just wanted to let everyone know that my law office has seen the waiting periods for NJ Expungments to be processed has reached a snail's pace. The NJ State Police Expungement Unit is taking longer and longer to review submitted expungement petitions, and when I called about status for a client the other day the NJ State Police informed me "the mail room is overflowing and we have a bunch of them we haven't even opened yet."

This is discouraging, as very, very few of my petitions are ever objected to anyway, so basically I'm just waiting for the State Police to say "no problem we don't object."

You see, when I submit a Petition for Expugement, the entire package is reviewed quickly by the Court and a judge signs an Order setting a hearing date for the expungement. I then have to serve copies of the entire Expungement Petition "package" via certified mail on the State Police, County Prosecutor, and other state law enforcement agencies. This is so these agencies can review the paperwork and decide if they want to object to the expungement. Technically, any and all objections are to be sent to the Court BEFORE the hearing date.

Also, although it is called a "hearing date" there is no hearing 99% of the time. It is really just the date when the judge plans to sign the Final Order of Expungement, provided the judge has received no objections to same by that date from the prosecutor, NJ State Police, or attorney general.

The reality, however, is that if the judge will wait well beyond the date set in the Order for Hearing to give the state police, etc "extra time" to see if they file an objection. Basically, the judge will not treat silence as a non-objection. The judge will wait until he receives a formal notice from the State Police and county prosecutor that "there is no objection to Mr. Smith's expungement." Once the judge sees in writing that there is no objection, he/she will then sign the Final Order of Expungement.

But that's still not the end of it. I then have to send the Final Order signed by the judge to the State Police Expungement Unit AGAIN so that they can physically expunge the records from their database/files. When the State Police are done with this (usually about 6 to 8 weeks after I send them the Final Order), they then send me what I call the "blue letter" [because it is always on blue-ish paper with a NJ State Deal watermark in the center] which states that the NJ State Police have now expunged the records and cleared the criminal history file.

I tell everyone not to apply for an FID card until I mail them the "blue letter" stating that the State Police have cleared their record. Anyone doing their own expungement in NJ should be aware of this, as I could easily see a situation where someone receives the Final Order from the judge and rushes out to apply for their FID, only to be denied because the charges are still on your record (they could also tack on a falsification charge as well). Although a situation like this would likely be "fixable," it would create a huge headache and further delay receiving your FID.

If anyone plans on getting an Expungement to obtain an FID card by the fall, I recommend starting the process as soon as possible. Call me at 908-782-5313 and also check my website links below for more expungement info:

Erase Criminal Records $795 | Large, Scammell & Danziger LLC

* By the way, I urge all NJ Hunter members to contact their local representative and urge reform of the NJ Expungement statute. The process is absurdly time-consuming and hyper-technical, the statute itself is a disaster area of legalese and illogical outcomes, and many aspects of it simply make no sense. I have a complex expungement case right now in Hunterdon and spent 45 mins on the phone with the assistant prosecutor the other day, both of us reading the statute aloud and reviewing my client's criminal records. Turns out his NJ State Police Criminal History listed the wrong charges! Someone screwed up back in the early 1990s and sent the wrong dispositions from Flemington to the NJ State Police. Nothing should be this much of a headache!

Other states such as PA make the process VERY simple- all one needs to do is file their Petition with the Court and the DA, and they take care of all the mailings and getting it to the judge. It is very streamlined. In NJ, I need to send bales of certified mail (at $6.50 a pop) to nearly 10 different people and agencies, and do it all TWICE! There is no reason the process couldn't be done electronically and save everyone lots of time and aggravation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
So basically after someone's name is cleared they can still be flagged on a charge for something they did not do?

Not exactly. Here is how the expungement process works from beginning to end in New Jersey:

1. Obtain your NJ Criminal History from the NJ State Police. To do this, you need to get fingerprinted electronically by Morpho-Trak. The FIRST STEP is to go to this link and download/fill out "FORM A"

New Jersey State Police - New Jersey Criminal History Records Checks (scroll down a bit and click the blue link for FORM A- then follow the directions on the form.


2. Pay the fee, get fingerprinted, and wait to receive your NJ Criminal History in the mail from the NJ State Police (usually takes 2 to 4 weeks after fingerprinting to get your history in the mail).


3. Review your charges on your NJ Criminal History to see if you qualify for an expungement. NOTE that if you've ever received PTI or a conditional discharge, then later been convicted of additional charges, your expungement can become very tricky. A lot will depend on the specific offenses and whether they were felonies or misdemeanors, and whether the original charges were downgraded, etc.

4. Note the date of the "disposition," which is the date your sentence was imposed. Note that the waiting periods for expungements (5 years for misdemeanors and 10 years for felonies) do not start ticking until you FINISH probation or PTI. Here is an example of an expungement of a simple pot (marijuana) possession charge, in which the sentence was a "conditional discharge" in municipal court:

You are arrested by the local police for possession of a small amount of marijuana ( a misdemeanor) on January 1, 2010. You appear in Municipal Court on February 25, 2010 and receive a Conditional Dismissal of the charges, meaning that if you stay out of further trouble for 12 months (or whatever time period the Court so sentences you), and comply with all other probation terms & pay all fines, your charges will be dismissed.

Thus on February 25, 2011, your "sentence" of conditional discharge is imposed (this is the "disposition date." Now, provided you have stayed out of further trouble/arrests, under the NJ expungement statute, the earliest you could apply for an expungement is August 25, 2011 (which is 6 months from the date you COMPLETED your 6-month conditional discharge program).


NOW, let's change the above facts a bit. Instead of receiving a conditional discharge, you simply appeared and pled guilty to possession of marijuana on February 25, 2010. Your sentence was 6 months probation and a $500 fine, plus court costs, etc.

You pay all fines right away, stay out of trouble, and finish your term of probation on August 25, 2010. When are you eligible for expungement?

Answer: August 25, 2015. The five-year waiting period applies since you pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor. The result would be the same if you had been found guilty at trial.


5. Back to the expungement process. I review your file, and if you qualify, I prepare your Petition for Expungment package and submit same to the Court.


6. In 2 to 4 weeks, the Court sends me back a signed Order for Hearing which sets the date the expungement order will be signed by the judge (provided no objections are received). I then have to serve the Order for Hearing on the attorney general, State Police Expungement Unit, the original municipal court where the charge was heard, the municipal prosecutor, the municipal court administrator, and anyone else the judge orders me to serve. These all must be sent certified mail, RRR, and I must send the green return mail postcards to the Court when I receive them all back to "prove" that I served all required persons and agencies.

7. I send the Court all of the certified mail postcards to "prove" service, and then wait and see if any obejctions are filed (usually there are no objections).



8. If no one objects, the judge will sign the Final Order of Expungement, although he may not sign it on the hearing date on your Order for Hearing, as I explained in the original post on this thread.


9. Once I receive the Final Order of Expungment which the judge has signed, I must re-serve everyone certified mail again, although the State Police are the ones who actually handle clearing the records.

10. Usually about 3 to 6 weeks after I serve the Final Order of Expungement, the State Police send me a final letter stating that the records have been expunged. DO NOT APPLY FOR AN FID CARD UNTIL YOU RECEIVE THE STATE POLICE LETTER! Why?

Although the judges Order is what actually grants the Expungement, the "order" is exactly that- it is "ordering" the State Police to expunge the records. The State Police need to receive that order and actually expunge the records from the file. A problem can occur if you were to apply for an FID before the state police have "finished" expunging the records, because your LOCAL police will run your criminal history and the charges will still pop up if the State Police haven't yet removed them. You would then have to explain to the local PD that you had an expungment granted but the State Police had not yet cleaned up the record, etc. It will be a massive headache, trust me.

Here is my Expungment FAQ:

Erase Criminal Records $795 | Large, Scammell & Danziger LLC
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Not exactly. Here is how the expungement process works from beginning to end in New Jersey:

1. Obtain your NJ Criminal History from the NJ State Police. To do this, you need to get fingerprinted electronically by Morpho-Trak. The FIRST STEP is to go to this link and download/fill out "FORM A"

New Jersey State Police - New Jersey Criminal History Records Checks (scroll down a bit and click the blue link for FORM A- then follow the directions on the form.


2. Pay the fee, get fingerprinted, and wait to receive your NJ Criminal History in the mail from the NJ State Police (usually takes 2 to 4 weeks after fingerprinting to get your history in the mail).


3. Review your charges on your NJ Criminal History to see if you qualify for an expungement. NOTE that if you've ever received PTI or a conditional discharge, then later been convicted of additional charges, your expungement can become very tricky. A lot will depend on the specific offenses and whether they were felonies or misdemeanors, and whether the original charges were downgraded, etc.

4. Note the date of the "disposition," which is the date your sentence was imposed. Note that the waiting periods for expungements (5 years for misdemeanors and 10 years for felonies) do not start ticking until you FINISH probation or PTI. Here is an example of an expungement of a simple pot (marijuana) possession charge, in which the sentence was a "conditional discharge" in municipal court:

You are arrested by the local police for possession of a small amount of marijuana ( a misdemeanor) on January 1, 2010. You appear in Municipal Court on February 25, 2010 and receive a Conditional Dismissal of the charges, meaning that if you stay out of further trouble for 12 months (or whatever time period the Court so sentences you), and comply with all other probation terms & pay all fines, your charges will be dismissed.

Thus on February 25, 2011, your "sentence" of conditional discharge is imposed (this is the "disposition date." Now, provided you have stayed out of further trouble/arrests, under the NJ expungement statute, the earliest you could apply for an expungement is August 25, 2011 (which is 6 months from the date you COMPLETED your 6-month conditional discharge program).


NOW, let's change the above facts a bit. Instead of receiving a conditional discharge, you simply appeared and pled guilty to possession of marijuana on February 25, 2010. Your sentence was 6 months probation and a $500 fine, plus court costs, etc.

You pay all fines right away, stay out of trouble, and finish your term of probation on August 25, 2010. When are you eligible for expungement?

Answer: August 25, 2015. The five-year waiting period applies since you pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor. The result would be the same if you had been found guilty at trial.


5. Back to the expungement process. I review your file, and if you qualify, I prepare your Petition for Expungment package and submit same to the Court.


6. In 2 to 4 weeks, the Court sends me back a signed Order for Hearing which sets the date the expungement order will be signed by the judge (provided no objections are received). I then have to serve the Order for Hearing on the attorney general, State Police Expungement Unit, the original municipal court where the charge was heard, the municipal prosecutor, the municipal court administrator, and anyone else the judge orders me to serve. These all must be sent certified mail, RRR, and I must send the green return mail postcards to the Court when I receive them all back to "prove" that I served all required persons and agencies.

7. I send the Court all of the certified mail postcards to "prove" service, and then wait and see if any obejctions are filed (usually there are no objections).



8. If no one objects, the judge will sign the Final Order of Expungement, although he may not sign it on the hearing date on your Order for Hearing, as I explained in the original post on this thread.


9. Once I receive the Final Order of Expungment which the judge has signed, I must re-serve everyone certified mail again, although the State Police are the ones who actually handle clearing the records.

10. Usually about 3 to 6 weeks after I serve the Final Order of Expungement, the State Police send me a final letter stating that the records have been expunged. DO NOT APPLY FOR AN FID CARD UNTIL YOU RECEIVE THE STATE POLICE LETTER! Why?

Although the judges Order is what actually grants the Expungement, the "order" is exactly that- it is "ordering" the State Police to expunge the records. The State Police need to receive that order and actually expunge the records from the file. A problem can occur if you were to apply for an FID before the state police have "finished" expunging the records, because your LOCAL police will run your criminal history and the charges will still pop up if the State Police haven't yet removed them. You would then have to explain to the local PD that you had an expungment granted but the State Police had not yet cleaned up the record, etc. It will be a massive headache, trust me.

Here is my Expungment FAQ:

Erase Criminal Records $795 | Large, Scammell & Danziger LLC
Remember, it is ALWAYS easier to handle any "skeletons in the closet" BEFORE you apply for an FID card. Appealing FID card denials in NJ is a long, expensive, and complex process. And the police are now more aggressive at actually arresting people for "falsification" of the FID form, even if their mistakes were innocent:

NJ Firearms ID card, NJ FID Card lawyer, FID card attorney | Large, Scammell & Danziger LLC

* Also understand that national "expungement" companies who advertise absurdly low prices (like $99) for expungements are really just providing you with document templates and instructions which you can get for free on the NJ Judiciary website:

http://www.state.nj.us/corrections/pdf/OTS/FRARA/Parole%20Handbook/10557_expunge_kit-11-2012.pdf

FYI: Be extremely careful/cautious about accepting advice on expungements from anyone who is not a licensed NJ attorney. I have had several clients come to me lately who have paid "low" fees of $99 to $300 to document companies and other non-attorneys who "guaranteed" their expungments, only to have all the documents bounce and the entire package get denied. As I've described above, the NJ expungement process is time-consuming, tricky, and complex, and requires a thorough review of your NJ State Police Criminal History before ANY expungement paperwork is filed with the Court.
 

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Very true. The hearing for my expungement was in May and my attorney said my county is all backed up. Hopefully I hear something soon because it's all going to be a deciding factor if i get my permit or not. I don't really see objections but then again NJ is a weird state on this type of matter.
 

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nmc02, I agree but people do make mistakes and sometimes unknowingly. I am squeaky clean not even a parking ticket but shit happens. lol
This is very good information. I might add a friend of mine (someone I worked with) applied for a pistol permit and they threatened him with arrest for falsification. He had a domestic dispute years ago with his ex wife. They gave him an F I D card and a pistol permit which he used to purchase a pistol. He applied for a second one a year or so later and the old record came up and they were deciding what to charge him with last I heard. Last I talked to him I told him to call Nappen
 

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I'm sorry, but of all the laws that I think we should petition the government to change, getting the laws changed to make it easier and faster for criminals to expunge their records so they can buy a gun is low on the list.

How about we work on the laws that harrass law-abiding citizens first? How about giving back law-abiding citizens the constitutional right to obtain a CCW? Or how about the right to buy a !#$% airgun without having to pretend it's a real firearm? How about changing the law so I don't have to worry about going to jail if I have to get gas, pick up my hunting partner, or just take a pee on the way to the hunting grounds?

I understand people make mistakes, but there are consequences to making mistakes. If it means you have to wait 6 months, a year, longer, to get your criminal record expunged, that's a consequence you have to deal with. You actually should be grateful you can clean your slate in the first place.

Sorry for being a hard-head ... I'm just jaded about all the laws in NJ and I think we should concentrate on making the lives of law-abiding citizens easier first, rather than making the lives of criminals easier.
 

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I'm sorry, but of all the laws that I think we should petition the government to change, getting the laws changed to make it easier and faster for criminals to expunge their records so they can buy a gun is low on the list.

How about we work on the laws that harrass law-abiding citizens first? How about giving back law-abiding citizens the constitutional right to obtain a CCW? Or how about the right to buy a !#$% airgun without having to pretend it's a real firearm? How about changing the law so I don't have to worry about going to jail if I have to get gas, pick up my hunting partner, or just take a pee on the way to the hunting grounds?

I understand people make mistakes, but there are consequences to making mistakes. If it means you have to wait 6 months, a year, longer, to get your criminal record expunged, that's a consequence you have to deal with. You actually should be grateful you can clean your slate in the first place.

Sorry for being a hard-head ... I'm just jaded about all the laws in NJ and I think we should concentrate on making the lives of law-abiding citizens easier first, rather than making the lives of criminals easier.
agree 100% [up]
 

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I'm curious. What is "weird" about your situation? Why did you use an attorney?

Anyway, good luck.

Very true. The hearing for my expungement was in May and my attorney said my county is all backed up. Hopefully I hear something soon because it's all going to be a deciding factor if i get my permit or not. I don't really see objections but then again NJ is a weird state on this type of matter.
 

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Long story short I completed a year of PTI a few years back. My case was dismissed and I never got the arrest expunged (Stupid of me). I applied for my FID permit, checked "no" on the question that asks have you ever been convicted of a crime, and I was denied because my arrest showed up on the background. The chief said i was barred from receiving the permit because I should of checked "yes" but I told him I checked "no" because it was my understanding that I was never convicted because the charges was dismissed after PTI. He said yes I was right because the background does state the charges were dismissed but I should of disclosed it. We talked for a little bit about the details surrounding the case and he suggested that I get the arrest expunged and I wouldn't have a problem getting the FID permit. So i took it upon myself to get a expungement and gun permit lawyer to handle the case because I know there would be a lot paperwork involved in the process. So far everything is looking good except the delay because my town is booked with cases on top of cases.
 
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