An expungement does not “erase” a criminal record. Rather, if you are granted an expungement, that means that law enforcement agencies are required to keep your record private except for certain limited situations. However, getting your record expunged can absolutely give you a fresh start in many situations. It is a technical process with a lot of rules, so retaining an attorney with experience in obtaining the necessary information and drafting the expungement paperwork can be extremely helpful in getting your record expunged as quickly as possible.
In New Jersey, we call the less serious criminal offenses “disorderly persons” and “petty disorderly persons” offenses (also known as DPs and PDPs). Some people refer to these in conversation as “misdemeanors.” Disorderly persons offenses can carry up to 6 months in jail, a fine of up to $1,000 and other mandatory financial penalties, and possible probation and/or community service. A petty disorderly persons offense carries the possibility of up to 30 days in jail, a fine of up to $500 plus other mandatory financial penalties, and possible probation and/or community service.
In New Jersey, traffic offenses are dealt with in the municipal court of the town or city where the alleged violation of the traffic code occurred. Driving While Intoxicated, also known as Driving Under the Influence (DWI and DUI) is also dealt with as a traffic offense in the municipal court. Many people mistakenly believe that DWI in New Jersey is considered a crime because the penalties are so tough.
In New Jersey, we call the most serious crimes a person can be charged with “indictable offenses.” In everyday conversations, you will hear people call these “felonies.” The word “indictable” refers to the right of an accused person to have their matter set down before a Grand Jury to determine whether the prosecution, also known as the State, has enough evidence to show that the person who has been arrested has committed a crime. If enough of the Grand Jurors believe that there is sufficient evidence to keep a criminal charge alive against a person, they will return a document called an “indictment” which formally charges them with a criminal offense.