How to Get a Copy of Your Criminal History/Rap Sheet in New Jersey

How to Get a Copy of Your Arrest Record in New JerseyIf you are interested in expunging your criminal record, you might be wondering how you can get a copy of your criminal history/rap sheet.  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 Criminal History/Rap Sheet?

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 history/rap sheet before applying for an expungement. If you are applying for an expungement, however, and you are unsure of exactly what your criminal record consists of, on the other hand, obtaining an accurate copy of your criminal history is the first step in the expungement process.  Obtaining your complete criminal history 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 criminal history/rap sheet. If, however, you are not sure of what your criminal record consists of, we strongly recommend that you obtain an accurate criminal history or rap sheet.

How to Obtain Your Criminal History/Rap Sheet 

Although there are hundreds of Internet-based private background check companies, many of these services are inaccurate or incomplete and, therefore, they 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 two ways to obtain your criminal history 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.

Obtaining your criminal history directly through the FBI is usually the quickest and easiest method. In order to obtain an FBI background check, you will need to be fingerprinted and undergo a criminal background check by the FBI. Instructions for doing so can be found on the FBI’s website: Please read the instructions carefully.  Note that there are three different methods to obtain your background check through the FBI – “Option 1,” “Option 2,” and “Option 3.” If it is available to you (depending on whether there is a post office location near you that offers this service) we recommend that you pursue Option 1, which is the quickest and easiest method.  Most clients obtain their results the same day.  If Option 1 is not available to you, the next best method is to pursue Option 3, where you will undergo fingerprinting through a private background check company.  This method usually takes 5 to 7 days to obtain results. We strongly discourage you from pursuing Option 2, which requires you to mail in your fingerprints to the FBI for processing.  This method can take several months to obtain your results.

How to Obtain Your Case Disposition from the Courts

If you hire Katherine O’Brien Law to handle your expungement, we will obtain all dispositions on your behalf. The instructions below, however, are provided for those who are looking to obtain a disposition on their own.

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 if 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 filling 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.

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 $895.00.  In addition, we offer flexible payment plans and can start working on your case for as little as $350.00 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 private, online 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.



Katherine O'Brien

New Jersey expungement lawyer Katherine North O’Brien has been practicing expungement law for her entire career and has handled hundreds of complex criminal record expungements. She has also assisted in the drafting of briefs on expungement issues before the New Jersey Supreme Court. Katherine is passionate about helping people clean their criminal records and, therefore, started Katherine O’Brien Law to offer those with criminal convictions a fresh start.