Breaking free of the criminal record ball and chain | Cohn Lifland Pearlman Herrmann & Knopf LLP
Cohn Lifland Pearlman Herrmann & Knopf LLP
Call Today:

Breaking free of the criminal record ball and chain

The ball and chain image enjoys a long history in U.S. iconography. It can mean many things. In the context of criminal law, it tends to serve as a visual cue that the person wearing it stands convicted of some charge. For the person it's attached to, it is a burden that can't be shed.

Balls and chains are not as common as they once were, but records of arrest or conviction can have the same effect, barring some from full participation in society. Applications for housing, education or work often ask if a person has a record, and answering truthfully often means rejection.

It may be possible to have records expunged, but eligibility is strictly limited by New Jersey law. It requires filing proper petitions with the proper court. You can anticipate challenges from prosecutors or others, so making the strongest argument for your case requires that you have a thorough understanding of your rights.


The process of expungement involves the removal and isolation of any records in any government facility related to any aspect of an individual criminal or juvenile justice system case. That can include information related to:

  • Arrest
  • Detention
  • Trial
  • Final determination, including conviction

New Jersey law details what conditions must exist for a person to petition for expungement. For example, convictions involving motor vehicle-related offense, including driving under the influence, can't be expunged because they are technically not criminal convictions. If the conviction is for an indictable offense, a lesser offense or for violating a municipal ordinance, and there is only one, expungement could be possible.

Time requirements

Once the type of conviction is identified as covered, the law requires you to wait certain amounts of time after the final disposition of your case before seeking expungement. For instance:

  • Municipal ordinance violations – two years
  • Disorderly Person's offenses – five years
  • Indictable offenses – 10 years (possibly five under exceptional circumstances)

The purpose of the expungement law is to provide those who qualify a chance at a fresh start. The process is not simple, however. So, if you have questions, speak with an experienced attorney.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

No Firm In Northern New Jersey Has More Experience Than We Do. Call 201-845-9600 Today To Put Our Knowledge On Your Side.

Email Us For a Response

Contact Northern New Jersey's Premiere Law Firm

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

Cohn Lifland Pearlman Herrmann & Knopf LLP
Park 80 West-Plaza One
250 Pehle Avenue
Suite 401
Saddle Brook, NJ 07663

Phone: 201-684-9695
Phone: 201-845-9600
Fax: 201-845-9423
Saddle Brook Law Office Map

Review Us