How Long Does It Take to Expunge a Record in New Jersey?

How Long Does It Take to Expunge a Record in New Jersey?UPDATE! Please note that, as of October 2022, expungements in New Jersey have been taking an unprecedented amount of time to complete with the average case taking two to two and a half years from start to finish. This is largely due to COVID-19 backlog and lack of staffing within the New Jersey State Police. We believe that this delay violates the expungement statute and, as a result, we have begun filing motions to expedite expungements on behalf of our clients. You can read more about these motions by clicking here.

Our expungement clients frequently ask us how long the expungement process in New Jersey is.  Currently, as of the time this blog post was written in April of 2017, the current processing time for a New Jersey expungement is approximately 6 months.   ***As of September 2021, the process is currently taking 8 to 12 months, largely due to COVID-19 backlog. 

To understand why the entire expungement process takes this long, below we have broken down each step in the expungement process into approximate time frames.

  • Weeks 1 to 6: Your attorney obtains criminal dispositions from the courts (if necessary) and thereafter drafts your expungement petition. Once drafted, the petition will be sent to you to sign in front of a notary and then return to the attorney.  Once your attorney receives the original, signed expungement petition, they will file it with the court.

As can be seen, this first step can take anywhere from 1 week to 6 weeks, depending on how long it takes the attorney to obtain the necessary court documents (which can take anywhere from a few days to 4 weeks to receive from the courts).  The total length for this first step also depends on how long it takes the client to return the original, notarized petition to the attorney.

  • Weeks 2 to 10: Your expungement petition is assigned to a judge and will thereafter be reviewed by the County Prosecutor and the New Jersey State Police, who will conduct a thorough background check.
  • Weeks 11 to 18: The judge assigned to handle your expungement grants your petition and mails the expungement order to your attorney. Once received, your expungement attorney serves the expungement order on the appropriate agencies, directing them to remove your record from their databases.

Keep in mind that your attorney will provide you with a copy of the executed expungement order at this point.  For some clients, proof that their expungement was granted by the judge will be sufficient, depending on their circumstances and the reason for their expungement.  For example, when the school and/or employer of some of our clients were already aware of their criminal records, and our clients provided the school or employer with a copy of the final expungement order at this stage, their school or employer’s requirements were satisfied even though the entire expungement process was not technically complete.

  • Weeks 12 to 28: The relevant agencies are removing your record from their databases. The final agency to remove your record(s), the New Jersey State Police, is currently taking approximately 3 – 4 months from the date your attorney serves them with the expungement order to actually remove your records
  • Weeks 24 to 28: Your attorney receives final confirmation from the New Jersey State Police confirming that your expungement is complete.

It is also important to note that these are approximate timeframes that we have found apply to the average expungement case.  Your particular case could, however, take more or less time.  For instance, your expungement might take longer if the County Prosecutor objects to your expungement for any reason, if the New Jersey State Police request more time to review your case, or if you are applying for a special type of expungement known as a “public interest” expungement.

But I read somewhere online that expungements take 3 to 4 months?

There are still several websites out there indicating that New Jersey expungements take 3 to 4 months.  The problem is that these website pages are likely not being updated.  Just last year, for instance, the expungement attorneys at Katherine O’Brien Law used to tell clients that the expungement process would take 3 – 4 months.  At that time, this information was true.

Towards the end of 2016, however, we noticed substantial delays in the expungement process.  We believe that these delays are being caused by a backlog of expungement petitions within the court systems.  In April of 2016, New Jersey’s expungement law was amended.  Those changes made many more people eligible for expungement.  As a result, we believe that the court system thereafter became flooded with expungements, thereby causing the resulting delays.

In short, if you are relying on information obtained from another website, check the date of the article you are referring to.  If it was written prior to 2017, you can assume the information is simply not up to date.

Can anything be done to speed up my expungement?

If you are wondering whether anything can be done to expedite your expungement, the short answer is yes.  For more information, read our posts on Obtaining an Expedited Expungement in New Jersey and 6 Tips for Obtaining a Fast Expungement in New Jersey.

New Jersey Expungement Lawyers

At Katherine O’Brien Law, we understand that for most people seeking an expungement, time is of the essence.  Perhaps you have been laid off or denied a promotion or job opportunity due to your record.  We pledge to do everything we can on our end to make sure your expungement proceeds as quickly as possible.  In addition, since we focus almost exclusively on expungements we have been able to streamline the expungement process, thereby resulting in quicker processing time on our end.  Moreover, happy clients are our utmost priority.  We therefore strive to keep you updated as to the progress of your expungement and to return your calls and emails in a timely and responsive manner.

Contact us today if you have any questions about your New Jersey expungement by calling us at 856-832-2482 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.