Expungement of Mental Health Records in New Jersey
New Jersey statutes provide for expungement of records relating to mental health commitments. Records of both voluntary and involuntary commitments can be expunged. Also eligible to be expunged are determinations of dangerousness. Note, however, that expunging any of these types of records is a substantial undertaking. It is substantial in terms of expense, as well as effort involved.
It is also important to understand what the expungement accomplishes, and what it does not. What can be expunged are records of the commitment itself. However, records of mental health consultations, observations, diagnoses, or treatment remain. Despite that, federal firearms disabilities created by records of commitments vanish. Second Amendment rights previously lost in New Jersey on account of the committment itself are restored. However, New Jersey may still try to deny Second Amendment rights on account of those mental health consultations, observations, diagnoses, or treatment records that are not expunged. Our Gun Lawyers in New Jersey™ site discusses this in more detail.
Statutes dealing with expungement of mental health records are not in the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice. Rather, they are in Title 30 of the New Jersey statutes. Title 30 relates to institutions and agencies.
Differences exist between expungement of mental health records and expungement of criminal records. Here is a comparison of the two types of expungements:
|Result of Expungement||Criminal Records||Mental Health Records|
|Record Is Destroyed||No||No|
|Record Is Segregated||Yes||Yes|
|Revealing the Expunged Record Is an Offense for Which the Person Doing the Revealing Can Be Prosecuted||Yes||No|
|The Commitment Can Be Denied Legally, Even under Oath||It depends. See Question 8 on our FAQ page.||It depends. See Question 8 on our FAQ page.|
|Disabilities Relating to Firearms Are Removed||Yes||Yes, for both federal and New Jersey disabilities. But our discussion above, as well as our Gun Lawyers in New Jersey™ page, discuss New Jersey limitations.|
|Applicants Seeking Employment in Law Enforcement Must Disclose Expunged Information||Yes||In theory, no. However, divulgence and waiver of confidentiality would be required for New Jersey firearms-related applications. Of course, not all positions in law enforcement involve firearms. From a practical perspective, therefore, the answer is maybe. Gun Lawyers in New Jersey™ provides more information.|
|Applicants Seeking Employment in Corrections Must Disclose Expunged Information||Yes||In theory, no. However, divulgence and waiver of confidentiality would be required for New Jersey firearms-related applications. Of course, not all positions in corrections involve firearms. From a practical perspective, therefore, the answer is maybe. Gun Lawyers in New Jersey™ provides more information.|
|Applicants Seeking Employment in the Judicial System Must Disclose Expunged Information||Yes||No|
N.J.S. 30:4-80.8 specifies when mental health records can be expunged. In particular, persons seeking expungement of those records are required to satisfy the court that they were discharged as recovered, or that they were substantially improved or in substantial remission. This substantial improvement or substantial remission need not have even existed at time of discharge. So long as at or after discharge the improvement or substantial remission occurred, expungement of the mental health commitment is available.
The expungement application is made to the court that first ordered the commitment, or to the Superior Court of New Jersey. Particular persons must be served with notice of the application. Those persons are the county adjuster of the county, the medical director of the institution or facility where the applicant was committed, and the party or parties who applied for the commitment or determination.
N.J.S. 30:4-80.9 specifies what the court must do after the application is filed. The court is to consider the following:
- The circumstances of why the commitment or determination was imposed upon the petitioner;
- The petitioner's mental health record;
- The petitioner's criminal history; and
- The petitioner's reputation in the community.
Persons wishing to represent themselves on an application to expunge mental health records may find forms and instructions prepared by the New Jersey Administrative Office of the Courts helpful. Alternatively, expunging mental health records is a service that Expungement Lawyers in New Jersey™ provides. Cost and payment arrangements information is available on a separate page.
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