What Should I Do if I’m Not Eligible for Expungement in New Jersey?

If you’ve found yourself ineligible for expungement in New Jersey, it can be a disheartening experience. However, there are still avenues available to you. At Katherine O’Brien Law, we’re here to guide you through your options and help you find the best path forward.Pardon when not eligible for expungement NJ

Understanding Expungement Eligibility in New Jersey

Expungement is a legal process that allows individuals to have their criminal records cleared, effectively providing a fresh start. However, not everyone is eligible for this relief. In New Jersey, eligibility criteria are strict, and some crimes are explicitly excluded from expungement. Generally, the following types of offenses are not eligible:

  • Violent Crimes: Including murder, kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault, and robbery.
  • Sex Offenses: Certain serious sexual offenses such as aggravated criminal sexual contact and endangering the welfare of a child.
  • Serious Drug Offenses: Offenses involving the distribution of drugs, particularly in large quantities.
  • Crimes Against Public Administration: Like perjury and false swearing.

It’s essential to understand that these categories are subject to change as New Jersey periodically updates its expungement laws. Therefore, even if you’ve been told before that you’re not eligible, it’s worth seeking a second opinion from an experienced expungement attorney.

Steps to Take if You’re Not Eligible for Expungement

  1. Consult an Expungement Attorney: One of the first steps you should take is to consult with an expungement attorney. At Katherine O’Brien Law, we’ve encountered numerous cases where clients were incorrectly informed about their ineligibility. Laws evolve, and what might have been ineligible a few years ago could now be eligible. An attorney can reassess your situation and provide the most current legal advice.
  2. Consider Clemency: If you are indeed ineligible for expungement, clemency might be an option. Clemency can include both pardons and commutation of sentences. Here’s what you need to know:
    • Pardons: A pardon is a form of clemency that forgives the crime and can remove the barriers to expungement. However, it’s at the discretion of the governor and historically, pardons are rarely granted.
    • Commutation of Sentences: This reduces the severity of the punishment but does not erase the conviction.

New Jersey’s Updated Clemency Procedures

In June 2024, New Jersey introduced significant changes to its clemency procedures, aiming to broaden the opportunities for those seeking relief. The new procedures include:

  • Expedited Review: Certain categories of cases are now entitled to expedited review, potentially speeding up the process.
  • Clemency Review Board: The establishment of a Clemency Review Board helps streamline the application process and provides more structured support to applicants.

At Katherine O’Brien Law, we offer comprehensive assistance with pardon applications. Our experienced attorneys can help strengthen your application by drafting compelling arguments and ensuring all necessary documentation is included. Our familiarity with the process and creative legal strategies can increase your chances of receiving a pardon.


If you’re not eligible for expungement, don’t lose hope. There are still legal avenues available to you, and with the right assistance, you can improve your chances of obtaining relief. Contact us at Katherine O’Brien Law for a consultation to explore your options. Our team is here to provide the support and expertise you need to navigate these complex legal waters.

Pardon when not eligible for expungement NJ

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.