Minor criminal charges in New Jersey (called Disorderly Persons and Petty Disorderly Persons offenses) are handled in our municipal courts along with traffic offenses. So the judges there handle shoplifting as well as speeding. These types of charges are not as serious as Grand Theft, Armed Robbery, or Manslaughter, but even an arrest for one can result in a stigma.
There is some good news, however, for those charged but not convicted. You no longer have to have that arrest record hanging over your head.
When Can I Get This Expungement?
Let’s say that you were charged with shoplifting. However, despite repeated listings of the matter in court, a representative from the store does not appear to press the charges. Without a witness, the prosecutor will move to dismiss, and the judge will grant it. Until now, that would be the end of it, and a record of your arrest would still exist.
But as of April 18, 2016, a judge can facilitate the expungement of the arrest upon said dismissal at no cost to you! That’s right, the arrest will disappear along with the charges! This can save you a lot of time, effort, and money to bring a separate expungement action to wipe it out.
How Does It Work?
You just have to ask! When you are before the judge, and the charge is dismissed, just ask that the appropriate paperwork for the expungement be provided to you by the court clerk. Once it is given to you, you fill out the form, take it to the county courthouse and file it!
Only a Superior Court judge can order an expungement, so this intermediate step is necessary. However, once the order is entered, it is up to the county prosecutor to make sure all of the appropriate parties are given notice of the expungement, thus saving you time and money in terms of attorney's fees.
You Can't Always Get It
This expungement is not always available, though. If the charges were dismissed as part of a plea deal (e.g. you plead guilty to trespassing and agreed to a permanent ban from the store in return for the shoplifting charges being dropped), then the arrest for shoplifting cannot be expunged. In order for this to work, the charge or charges themselves must be out-and-out dropped.
This is the same as in a regular expungement, so it is no surprise that it should be applied to this new accelerated process. But in situations where you can walk away free from any charges, it is good that you can now walk away with no arrest record as well.
Need Help with This?
If you need help with this process, and you live in the Gloucester County, New Jersey area, please feel free to call me at 856-432-4113 or contact me through this site to schedule an appointment for a consultation in my Woodbury office. Don’t let your past hold you back from a better future!