Everyone makes mistakes sometimes, but when a mistake involves a criminal charge, it can haunt a person throughout his or her lifetime. If you have a criminal record, consider talking to a defense attorney in Paterson, NJ. A criminal lawyer can determine if you may be eligible for criminal record expungement. Expungement is the process of eliminating information about your arrest and conviction. Getting your records expunged can be a considerable help when it’s time to apply for a job, find housing, or apply to college.
Consult an Attorney
The first step in the expungement process is to consult a criminal defense attorney to find out if you could be eligible to petition the court for an expungement. Ahead of your meeting, gather together information that is relevant for your case. Your criminal lawyer will need the following information:
- The specific criminal charges
- The date of your arrest
- The date of the disposition
- The indictment, accusation, summons, docket number, warrant number, or complaint number
- The legal penalties or other disposition
Generally, lawyers can petition for the expungement of arrest records, juvenile offenses, drug offenses of offenders under the age of 21, disorderly conduct offenses, and indictable convictions.
Request Your Criminal History Record
If you cannot locate your criminal history records, then you’ll need to request this information from the New Jersey State Police. The police contracts with a private company to conduct fingerprinting services; you’ll need to contact this company to arrange an appointment to be fingerprinted so that you can obtain your records.
File a Petition for Expungement
If your criminal lawyer determines that you are eligible, he or she will prepare a petition for expungement on your behalf. Your lawyer will file the petition in the appropriate county. Then, you’ll be asked to complete the “Verification” page and sign it before a notary public.
Attend the Hearing
You may be required to attend a hearing with your criminal defense attorney. If so, plan to arrive at the hearing 15 minutes early. Bring your copies of the filed petition and all other necessary paperwork as directed by your lawyer. When you meet your lawyer at the court, be sure to inform the court clerk of your presence. In most cases, judges grant expungements provided that no law enforcement officer objects.