Fast track expungements for certain crimes can be great, in that you only have to wait five years to apply, rather than 10. You basically have to prove three points:

  • Five years has gone by since you completed your prison sentence and or parole
  • You have had no additional conventions since then
  • And the court finds that an expungement of your crime is in the public interest.

But what does that mean? How does a court determine if your expungement is in the public interest?

How Do Courts Determine Public Interest for Expungement?

There are a wide variety of factors that courts look at in making their determination of whether your fast track expungement is in the public interest. These can include how close you are to 10 years than five years when you file your request, the nature of the offense, and whether the need for the availability of the records of your crime outweighs the desirability of expungement, regardless of whether any party objects on this basis. Your character and conduct both before and after the conviction is scrutinized as well. 

Character and Conduct Since Conviction

Courts may also examine things like how you behaved while in jail or on probation, along with the risk of you reoffending. Have you avoided activities that enhance that risk or engaged in activities that lessen them? These include:

  • Obtaining job training or education
  • Complying with other legal obligations
  • Maintaining family and community ties and whether those community or or family ties promote law abiding behavior
  • Whether you sir sever ties with criminals.

Character and Conduct Before the Conviction

A court assesses facts and behavior after the condition, but can also consider conduct before the conviction to gauge whether the offense was an aberration or part of a pattern of disrespect for the law or a threat to public safety.

Fortunately, as to all of these elements, the courts may only consider established or undisputed facts, not unproven allegations.

How Can You Prepare to Prove That Public Interest?

What can be difficult is that you bear the burden of proof to show the public interest. That does make sense, though, as the factors can be rather subjective and the knowledge of this is something that you would have, and not the court. Luckily, that burden is only preponderance of the evidence; you do not have to prove it be on a reasonable doubt, nor does the evidence have to be clear and convincing.

If you are looking to get a fast track expungement there is some information you need to gather together to take to your attorney. That includes:

  • Information on employment
  • Any advancement in your employment
  • Letters on character from third parties
  • Affidavits from people that have known you for a long time and can attest to your character.
  • Letters from people who know about the conviction but that can state it doesn't change their opinion of you. This one is very key, I can make sure that the other information has an impact on the judge.

What other facts are important?

  • Are you married?
  • Are you employed?
  • Have you found all your tax returns?
  • Are you a religious person?
  • Do you own property?
  • Do you have children?
  • If you owe child support, have you been paying?

As to the nature of the offense that you're trying to expunge and its seriousness, you should be ready to provide undisputed or proven facts about the crime in its commission, including basic information about the crime itself, its grade in the criminal code (1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th degree), and the elements of the offense. Judges may also consider details about what you did, how and with whom you acted, and any harm you may have caused in connection with the effects, so be prepared to address that as well.

As to the seriousness of drug crimes, the court may consider:

  • How many times you distributed drugs
  • Whether you distributed to children
  • Whether a weapon was involved or
  • Other relevant facts not disputed or which of been proven.

Other public interest considerations can include related charges that have been dismissed if the underlying facts up and substantiated or under spirit.

Don't Try to Do This Yourself!

As you can see, a fast track expungement is faster, but it isn't something you should try to do yourself. Courts scrutinize the public interest angle, and prosecutors are more likely to object. You need an advocate in your corner to make sure all of the proper steps are taken!

If you are looking to expunge some arrests and/or convictions in your past that occurred in the Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Salem or Cumberland County, area, have decided that you need an expungement and are ready to take action, then click on this link to schedule a call with me. Don’t let your past hold you back from a better future!

If you are not sure you are ready to hire a lawyer, but want more information, then download my free book, What Everyone Should Know About Getting a NJ Expungement to get the answers you're looking for!

Want to see if you are even eligible for an expungement? Take the quiz to the right and see!

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Steven J. Richardson
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Bankruptcy, Collections, Student Loan, DUI and Traffic Court attorney in Woodbury, NJ.