If you are interested in expunging your criminal record, you might be wondering how you can get a copy of your arrest record. There are quite a few ways that you can obtain a copy of your criminal record, and which way is best in your case will depend on your specific circumstances.
Do I Even Need to Obtain a Copy of my Arrest Record?
For those who already know what is on their criminal record (for example, you know that 5 years ago you were arrested for shoplifting, the charge was subsequently dismissed, and that you have no other arrests or convictions on your record) you may not even need to request a copy of your criminal record before applying for an expungement. This is because most expungement lawyers will include this service in their fee. If however, you are trying to expedite your New Jersey expungement, you might want to go ahead and obtain a copy of your disposition before beginning the expungement process.
If you are applying for an expungement and you are unsure of exactly what your criminal record consists of, on the other hand, obtaining an accurate copy of your criminal record is the first step in the expungement process. Obtaining your criminal record before beginning the expungement process has two benefits for those who are unsure of exactly what is on their record:
1. It ensures that you are actually eligible for expungement before you pay an expungement lawyer to start working on your case.
Expungement eligibility will depend on the type and number of criminal convictions on your record. Most New Jersey expungement lawyers will review your criminal record free of charge in order to determine whether or not you are eligible for expungement. Thus, if you are not sure of what is on your record, before you hire a lawyer to expunge your record, you should obtain a copy of your arrest record. Once you receive your results, have a lawyer review them in order to determine whether you are even eligible for expungement.
2. It greatly reduces the chances of the County Prosecutor objecting to your expungement application.
Your entire criminal record must be disclosed on your Petition for Expungement. A failure to list any arrest (even arrests that resulted in dismissal) will result in the County Prosecutor objecting to your expungement. If the County Prosecutor objects on this basis, an amended petition will need to be filed with the court and then re-served on the appropriate governmental agencies, resulting in delays and additional expenses. In addition, depending on the nature of the offense that was not disclosed, you might not be eligible for expungement.
Thus, if you already are aware of what your criminal record consists of, there is probably no need to obtain a copy of your record prior to starting your expungement, unless you are trying to obtain a fast expungement. If, however, you are not sure of what your criminal record consists of, we recommend that you obtain an accurate criminal history or rap sheet.
How to Obtain Your Criminal Record from the Courts
One way to obtain a copy of your criminal record in New Jersey is to request a copy of the disposition directly from the court where the charges were filed. A disposition is the official court record that indicates the final settlement or outcome of your criminal case. At the Superior Court level, the disposition may be referred to as the “Judgment of Conviction,” while at the Municipal Court level, it is simply referred to as the “Disposition.”
Most courts in New Jersey (whether Municipal Court or Superior Court) will provide you with a copy of the disposition the same day is you are able to personally appear in court and request it, so long as you show appropriate identification.
If you are unable to request a copy of the record in person, however, most courts require you to write to request a record by filing out a Record Request Form. Moreover, the procedure for requesting a record in writing can vary from court to court. You should therefore contact the applicable court to determine the correct process. If you use this method and mail your request to the court, it could take anywhere from a few days to up to 4 weeks to receive your results.
If you have been arrested multiple times in different courts, you should note that you will need to request your records in this manner separately from each court. Moreover, this method is not recommended for those who are unsure of what their criminal record consists of, since you must have a basic understanding of which courts are involved in order for this method to produce accurate results.
How to Obtain Your Criminal Record from the FBI
Although there are hundreds of Internet-based private background check companies, many of these services are inaccurate or incomplete and, therefore, should not be relied on. The most accurate way to obtain a complete copy of your arrest record (or rap sheet) is to obtain the information directly through the FBI. There are three methods for requesting a copy of your criminal record through the FBI.
1. Through the New Jersey State Police.
If you live in New Jersey and you are interested in obtaining a copy of your New Jersey criminal record only, you can obtain a background check through the New Jersey State Police. In order to do so, you will need to complete an application and schedule an appointment to have your fingerprints recorded by Morpho Trust. You will usually receive your results in a couple of weeks. The results, however, will be limited to the 21 counties in New Jersey. Thus, this method is not recommended for those who might have out-of-state arrest records.
2. Through the FBI’s Website.
To obtain your criminal history record from the FBI, you must fill out an application and appropriate fingerprint card. Instructions are available on the FBIs website. This method requires that you be fingerprinted (usually by a local law enforcement office) and that you submit the application together with your fingerprints to the FBI, together with the fee. Current processing time, according to the FBI’s website, is 12-14 weeks. An advantage of this method is that your FBI results will include arrest information nationwide and it will be the same information that the County Prosecutor handling your expungement will be relying on.
3. Through Katherine O’Brien Law.
Alternatively, the New Jersey expungement lawyers at Katherine O’Brien Law can obtain a copy of your rap sheet for you. We work closely with a FBI-approved Channeler (a company that expedites the delivery of criminal record information on behalf of the FBI). An advantage of using our office to request your criminal record in this manner is that we are able to obtain your results in approximately 7 days, as opposed to 12-14 weeks. If you would like us to assist you in obtaining your criminal record, simply let us know and we will email you instructions.
Similar to the FBI’s method above, you will be required to get your fingerprints taken at your local police station and return your fingerprints to us together with a completed application. After we received your results, we will review them for eligibility and then forward them to you along with a written statement as to expungement eligibility. Our fee for this service is $150.00 and includes all costs. Similar to the FBI method above, your results will include arrest information nationwide and it will be the same information that the County Prosecutor handling your expungement will be relying on.
Experienced, Affordable New Jersey Expungement Lawyers
At Katherine O’Brien Law, we are here to answer any questions you may have about obtaining your criminal background results. We also offer affordable expungement services. Our all-inclusive fee for expungement is $695.00. In addition, we offer flexible payment plans and can start working on your case for as little as $300.00 down.
Removal of Expunged Records from Private Databases
Here at Katherine O’Brien Law, we understand the devastating impact a criminal record can have. Therefore, we always go the extra mile for our clients. Included in all of our expungement services – free of charge — is the removal of your record from more than 500 private sector background check databases. This invaluable service will ensure that old arrest information is no longer being held and distributed by private background check providers, allowing our clients to realize the full benefits afforded to them under the legal process of expungement.
Contact us today at 856-832-2482 for a free consultation or by filling out our Expungement Interview Form.