In order to offer criminal offenders a chance to be rehabilitated without going through the prison system or having a criminal record, New Jersey offers a number of alternative programs. Two of the most common are the Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) and Conditional Discharge. Those who are eligible can avoid jail or prison while also receiving counseling and support that aim to reduce the chances of reoffending.
Those who successfully complete these programs will have the criminal charges dismissed. Unfortunately, the indictment and record of the diversionary program itself will still appear in a background check. While it is not as serious as a full criminal conviction, these things can still be a turnoff for many employers, educational institutions, and landlords. This can hamper a person’s attempt to move on from their mistake.
The good news is that the indictment and record of the Conditional Discharge or PTI can be expunged—this is the only way to ensure that it will not appear in a background check and one’s best bet for ensuring that the past stays in the past.
What Does it Mean If My Conditional Discharge is Expunged?
A person who applies to have their record expunged is asking the court to make the record inaccessible to most parties. Employers, schools, landlords, banks and most other private institutions will not be able to see the record after it has been expunged. For most part, it is treated as though the offense and arrest never happened. A person who has had the record of the program expunged can legally deny having offended on any future applications or interviews (with some exceptions).
It should be noted that the courts and other bodies may still be able to access the record. As such, should a person complete a Conditional Discharge and then reoffend, the presiding judge will still be able to see that the expunged indictment and program details.
How Can I Get My Conditional Discharge or PTI Expunged?
Those who enter a PTI or Conditional Discharge are eligible to apply to have the indictment and program record expunged six months after completion of the program. That means, for example, that a person who must complete 12 months of probation and random drug testing as part of their Conditional Discharge can begin to apply for an expungement no sooner than six months after they have been released from probation or 18 months after they were sentenced.
If I Reoffend After Completing a Conditional Discharge, Can I Still Apply for an Expungement of the New Charges?
Yes. Starting Oct. 1, 2018, New Jersey permitted those who previously completed a diversionary program to apply for an expungement. Prior to the new rules, having completed such programs made one ineligible to expunge records unrelated to the diversionary program.
What Conditions Must Be Met Before I Apply for an Expungement?
As with any case involving expungements, a person must meet all of the conditions set forth in the diversionary program and wait the appropriate amount of time (six months). One must then file a motion with the court which oversaw the case. To do so, one must:
- Request a certified disposition from the court showing the charges and how they were resolved.
- Draft the petition, which will include a certification that the petitioner must sign.
- Send copies of the petition via certified mail to the court, attorney general, and various New Jersey law enforcement agencies.
If the filing was done correctly, a notice will come back from the court showing that the motion was filed. Should the prosecutor object, a judge may request a hearing, although many expungements do not require one. If the prosecutor’s office does not object, the judge will likely sign an order granting the motion to expunge the records. When this happens, one must again send certified copies of it to all the law enforcement agencies instructing them to remove the records.
Do I Need an Attorney to Help Me Expunge My Diversionary Program?
Because the expungement process requires many documents and steps, and omitting even one step can prevent the petition from being granted, it makes a lot of sense to hire an attorney with experience handling expungements, even though technically it’s not necessary to do so. An attorney can ensure that the filing is done correctly. Further, should a prosecutor object, one will want to have an attorney attend the resulting hearing to effectively counter the objections and do everything possible to convince the judge to grant the expungement. In many cases, an attorney can attend such hearings without the need for the petitioner to be present in court.
Who Should I Contact?
If you or a loved one wants to have the record of an arrest and enrollment in a diversionary program expunged, contact the attorneys of the Rosenblum Law Firm today. Our skilled attorneys have helped many people in similar situations. They will fight to have your record expunged. E-mail or call us today at 888-815-3649.