When a New Jersey conviction cannot be expunged, it becomes necessary to consider “Plan B”. This page is the portal to expungement alternatives: What they are, how they work, their availability, and their limitations.


As indicated on our FAQ page, not everyone can have his or her records expunged. Sometimes this inability arises on account of the nature of the crime. Sometimes it is on account of the number of convictions. Or perhaps not enough time has passed. Expungement of federal charges borders between difficult and impossible.

When records cannot be expunged, life gets complicated. Basically, two choices remain: Accept the situation and move on as best you can; or explore ”Plan B.” Actually, several “Plans B” exist. We briefly outline seven of these Plans B on this page and, for five of the seven, provide a link to additional information.

Executive Clemency

Executive Clemency is also called a “Pardon”. New Jersey pardons can be granted only by the governor. Federal pardons can be granted only by the President. Pardons can be granted before charges are even filed; while charges are still pending; or following conclusion of the case. Pardons constitute complete “forgiveness” for the event (or events) in question.

The Certificate of Rehabilitation

The Certificate of Rehabilitation is a court declaration that the offender is “rehabilitated.” This Certificate of Rehabilitation does not in any way “erase” the conviction. Rather, what it does is remove impediments to licensure that arise under New Jersey law. Thus upon obtaining a Certificate of Rehabilitation, convictions that previously might previously have prevented a person from obtaining a license to sell real estate, or be a cosmetologist, or a registered nurse will (at least in theory) remove these impediments.

Reopen the Original Case

Procedures exist to reopen previous convictions. One procedure is an application to set aside a guilty plea. A second procedure is to apply for something called Post Conviction Relief. The two procedures are very different from one another. For federal convictions, the closest there is to post conviction relief is habeas corpus.

Relief from Disabilities

Relief from Disabilities is a federal procedure. The disabilities that are relieved are disabilities relating to the purchase and possession of firearms. For reasons explained on our Relief from Disabilities page, Relief from Disabilities is difficult or impossible to obtain.

The Internet

A non-legal “Plan B” involves working the internet in a way that helps to hide events that cannot be expunged. Expungement Lawyers in New Jersey™ do not provide that service. Companies exist that do. We provide links to those companies elsewhere on this site.

Wait it Out

A final option is to “wait it out.” Eligibility or ineligibility to obtain expungement of New Jersey criminal history records is determined by New Jersey statutes. Statutes change. What may not be expunged today can perhaps be expunged in the future, if expungement laws are relaxed. (The opposite is also true--the law could change so that records that can be expunged today could become ineligible in the future.)

Pending right now in the New Jersey Legislature is Senate Bill S3205. Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee Statement to S3205 describes how that proposed legislation, if passed, will enable thousands of presently ineligible persons to qualify to have their criminal and arrest records expunged. If your record cannot be expunged now, relief may become available a month from now; or five years from now. Then too, relief may never become available.

Waiting it out can be the least satisfactory solution because while you are waiting it out, life is passing you by. Still, sometimes, and depending on circumstances, it may be the most practical solution available.

Try Anyway

This option involves the situation where, under existing expungements statutes and caselaw, your history cannot be expunged, but you want the court to break new ground. The most fertile possibility here invokes “the equitable jurisdiction of the court.” In this approach, we argue that the particular circumstances of your case are so compelling that the court should expunge your record even though the statutes do not provide for that expungement.

Although occasionally successful elsewhere, Expungement Lawyers in New Jersey™ know of no instances under New Jersey law where this approach has succeeded. Nonetheless, this approach is available, at least in theory. The sad truths however, are that it is a fight that would take a very long time, would be very expensive (think five-figures, and probably not low five figures), and is has a good likelihood to ultimately be not successful.

“Which Is Best for Me?

Many factors are involved in determining which procedure is best likely to enable you to move forward with your life. These factors include the following:
  • What were you found guilty of?
  • When were you convicted?
  • Were you convicted at trial, or as the result of a guilty plea?
  • What is the specific reason that you considered seeking an expungement in the first place? Employment? To hunt or go target shooting? To join the military? Other?
  • What changes in law is the New Jersey Legislature considering, and what is their likelihood of passage?
  • How large a financial risk are you willing (and able) to take?
Expungement Lawyers in New Jersey™ are available to review your situation and discuss any or all of these procedures with you in greater detail. Discussions of this nature take time. They will often require a review of relevant documents. Legal research may be needed. The discussions will sometimes need to be done in sessions, in order to obtain more information or documents than are initially at hand. Upon completion of the review, Expungement Lawyers in New Jersey™ can make recommendations as to which (if any) of these options might best satisfy your needs.

Expungement Lawyers in New Jersey™ charge a flat fee, generally $985.00, for the review and discussion just described. This fee will be higher if it is necessary to review trial transcripts or voluminous discovery. Expenses associated with investigation, including costs for records, may be additional. However, only a single review and discussion fee is charged, even when more than just one session is needed. At the conclusion of the review, Expungement Lawyers in New Jersey™ will normally be able to indicate what additional charges would be incurred in order to actually pursue any of the available procedures.

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Law Offices of Allan MarainNJ and New Jersey arrested can expunge criminal records and convictions for crimes and dismissed.
Attorney and Counsellors at Law
100 Bayard Street
P.O. Box 1030
New Brunswick NJ 08903
or Toll Free: 877-XPUNG-NJ
email: Info@NJExpungements.com

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