In New Jersey, juvenile records -- other than those for very serious crimes -- are generally hidden from public view. To ensure confidentiality, your records may also be officially sealed or expunged. There are only a few circumstances under which information in a sealed or expunged juvenile record may be disclosed. For example, if you are convicted of a subsequent offense, your sealed juvenile record may again be made available to those who were previously permitted to view it. Generally, however, if your juvenile record is sealed or expunged, it will be treated as though it never existed. You are not required to disclose information about your sealed or expunged juvenile record to anyone.
Does Your Juvenile Court Record Qualify for Sealing?
You may ask a court to seal your juvenile record if either of the following are true:
You have satisfied a two-year waiting period. Your records may qualify for sealing if two years have passed since you were released from custody, supervision, or the provisions of a court order. To be eligible, you must not have been adjudicated delinquent or convicted of a crime or disorderly persons offense during the two years prior to your request for sealing. No juvenile or criminal matters may be pending against you.
You have enlisted in the military. In most cases, your records will qualify for sealing if you can prove to a court that you have enlisted in and been accepted by a branch of the armed forces. If you do not follow through with your enlistment, the order to seal your records will be reversed.
(New Jersey Statutes § 2A:4A-62.)
Does Your Juvenile Court Record Qualify for Expungement?
Your juvenile arrest or court records may be expunged under the following conditions:
Expunging an arrest that did not result in adjudication. If you were arrested but not adjudicated delinquent, your arrest record qualifies for sealing unless the dismissal of charges or acquittal was the result of a plea bargain involving additional adjudications. (New Jersey Statutes § 2C:52-6.)
Expunging your entire juvenile record. Your juvenile record may qualify for complete expungement if:
- five years have passed since you were discharged from custody, supervision, or the provisions of a court order
- you have not been adjudicated delinquent, subject to supervision, or convicted of a crime or disorderly persons offense during that five-year period
- no juvenile or criminal matter is pending against you
- you were not adjudicated delinquent for one of the serious offenses described in New Jersey Statutes § 2C:52-2
- you have never had an adult conviction expunged, and
- you have never been charged with an adult crime that was dismissed after you completed a treatment or diversion program.
Post-incarceration supervision is not included when calculating the five-year periods described above.
(New Jersey Statutes § 2C:52-4.1(b).)
Expunging a single adjudication. Whether or not you can expunge a single delinquent adjudication depends on whether the offense, if it were committed by an adult, would have constituted a crime, a disorderly persons offense, or a violation of an ordinance. These types of crimes are eligible for expungement under the same standards used for the expungement of adult crimes in New Jersey. (New Jersey Statutes § 2C:52-4.1(a).) For more information, see Expunging or Sealing Adult Criminal Records in New Jersey.
How to File
To seal juvenile court record, you must file a motion in the court that handled your case. Contact the court clerk’s office for more information.
If you want to apply for a record expungement, start by visiting the New Jersey Courts website. It offers a kit, called How to Expunge Your Criminal and/or Juvenile Record, which contains important information about the filing process and includes the forms you’ll need.
Getting Legal Help
Clearing a juvenile record can be complicated. If you are not sure whether your record qualifies for sealing or expunging in New Jersey -- or for help completing the necessary paperwork and presenting your case to the court -- you should contact a qualified criminal law attorney. A good lawyer can guide you each step of the way.