New Jersey Arrest Records and Warrant Search
What is an Arrest Record?
An arrest record in New Jersey consists of the name of the law enforcement agency that effected the arrest and the date of arrest, a list of the charges against you, investigative reports, DNA evidence, mug shots, the court where the proceedings occurred, date of scheduled court appearances and disposition.
A New Jersey arrest record is not evidence of your guilt but it is part of your NJ public criminal record unless you have managed to have it expunged or sealed by court order. Having a number of arrests on your record may be misleading in some cases as some people have been arrested numerous times at political demonstrations or rallies but had their charges quickly dismissed since the state or political subdivision is usually only trying to keep the peace or to make a point. In other cases, it may indicate that someone’s behavior may be problematic.
Who Can View an Arrest Record in New Jersey?
Any person, governmental entity, business representative or employer may view your criminal record in most cases. Employers often request to see your criminal record since it is easily accessible on the internet. Landlords, licensing agencies, adoption agencies, foreign business entities, the Immigration and Naturalization Service and even lenders may wish to see your criminal record to see if you are a risk for potential criminal or unethical behavior.
Although there are no specific federal laws regarding background checks, there are provisions in the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act that have standards for credit checks. If your employment application is for a job in the financial services, health care, law enforcement, gaming or education industries or for some other job that involves children or seniors, New Jersey law requires a criminal law check. Otherwise, the inquiry should be justified by a legitimate business necessity although the easy availability of record searches online make such requirements essentially meaningless.
Most criminal background information sites are subscription based or require a one-time fee for searching an NJ criminal record. There are also national criminal databases that you may use as well if you have the person’s full legal name and birthday.
What is an Arrest Warrant?
A new jersey arrest warrant is a court order allowing a law enforcement agency to arrest you. Some warrants may restrict the time within which you can be arrested. An NJ arrest warrant is only issued if the requesting agency has demonstrated probable cause to a judge or magistrate to believe you committed a crime. Typically, a police officer or detective will submit an affidavit to a judge in the district or jurisdiction where the offender is living attesting to particular facts that show that a particular individual committed a criminal act. For example, the affidavit must state that the offender was identified by someone who committed the crime.
An active arrest warrant in New Jersey may state that bail must be posted before the arrested offender may be released, or it may not allow for any bail at all, especially if it was issued because the person failed to appear in court.
If you still have an NJ active warrant on your name, police may arrest you at your home or business or in your car if you were legally stopped for a traffic violation or if the police identified you. The arresting officer must provide the warrant document to you when you are placed under arrest or shortly thereafter. It will state for what crime you are being arrested and when the warrant was issued.
Once you are lawfully arrested, the police may search you and the immediate area around you unless they also have a search warrant with them that may extend the search. The search incident to an arrest is for the protection of the arresting officers. If you were arrested while driving, the police may search your car only if it might contain evidence of the offense for which you were arrested such as drug trafficking. For most other offenses, no search of your vehicle may be made.
What Do You Do if an Arrest Warrant Has Been Issued in New Jersey?
In most cases, you do not want to go to a courthouse to verify your arrest warrant or to make any other inquiries or conduct any other business for you risk immediate arrest. You can make an anonymous call to the courthouse to see if a warrant has been issued. Many New Jersey courts have telephone numbers you can call for this specific purpose.
If you have an outstanding warrant in New Jersey for not paying child support, you may contact the agency that requested the warrant and see if a payment schedule can be arranged. If so, the outstanding warrant may be quashed or withdrawn once you do make an appearance and agree to the payment arrangements and other conditions.
For other warrants, you may ask if there are bail provisions. If there are, contact a bail bondsman and arrange for bail to be posted and for your eventual surrender to police. It is often preferable to consult with, and to retain, a criminal defense attorney to make all bail arrangements and to accompany you to the police station. On your arrival, you will be booked. This consists of photographing and fingerprinting you, confiscating any personal property on you, and obtaining personal information such as your social security number, driver’s license and other pertinent information.
In some cases, you may only have to make a court appearance. You or your attorney can have you placed on the court criminal docket where the presiding judge may withdraw the warrant, have you post bail, or agree to release you without bail. Consult with a criminal defense attorney about this possibility.
You should not under any circumstances make any statements about the offense for which you were arrested to police or to anyone else while you are in detention.
How to Request New Jersey Arrest Records
Your criminal record is subject to be viewed by anyone although the Open Public Records Act of New Jersey does not permit disclosure of personal information about an offender or release of records regarding an ongoing criminal or any other public investigation.
For arrest warrants or any other criminal history records, you can access the New Jersey Attorney General’s website athttp://www.nj.gov/njsp/about/serv_chrc.html. This is a site for anyone who needs a criminal history check for employment, licensing, visa, adoption, immigration or expungement purposes. Forms are available online but you must submit to an electronic live scan at an approved site and pay the required fee.
Other sites can be found at the particular New Jersey’s court website where you merely have to download a records request form and fax or mail it to that court’s criminal records department. You will need the defendant’s name, date of offense and case or indictment number. If you do not have this information, you can use the court’s public access computers to make your own search.
Can I Expunge My Arrest Record?
If you were arrested but the charges against you were either dismissed or dropped, you can petition the Superior Court in the county where the arrest occurred to have your court and other records expunged at any time after your case was disposed. If your case was dismissed after you completed a diversion program, you will have to wait 6 months after entry of the order of dismissal.
Before filing your petition, you must locate and obtain your complete criminal records regarding your arrest, charges and disposition. You can get these records by contacting the Superior Court Criminal Case Management Office in the county where your arrest or disposition occurred.
Otherwise, you will have to go the New Jersey State Police to be fingerprinted, though the police use a private company, Sagem Morpho, Inc., for electronic scanning. You can schedule an appointment atwww.bioapplicant.com/nj or by calling 1-877-503-5981.
Once you obtain your records, complete and have notarized the Petition for Expungement along with an Order for Hearing and proposed Expungement Order. After filing these documents, you must make at least 7 copies of these to be mailed to:
- County prosecutor
- Clerk of the municipal court if your matter was heard in municipal court
- New Jersey Attorney General’s Office
- Chief of Police of department where arrest was made
- County Probation Division if you were in a diversion program or you were granted a conditional discharge or deferred disposition
- Division of Criminal Justice, Records and Identification Unit if your case went through the state grand jury
- County Family Division if your arrest or matter was a juvenile delinquency case
These agencies should also receive a copy of your signed Expungement Order if it is granted following your hearing. In most cases, there will be no objection if you are requesting expungement of a single arrest.