A criminal record is first acquired in New Jersey when a person is arrested and fingerprinted by law enforcement personnel in the state. The person’s criminal record will be then updated with each subsequent arrest and resulting disposition following the initial arrest.
New Jersey is not a state that provides general public access to criminal history information: residents may only request a copy of their own criminal record, and may not request the criminal records of another person.
In order to obtain a copy of their New Jersey criminal record, a state resident must complete an electronic fingerprint scan at an approved fingerprint capturing site. The New Jersey State Police Criminal Information UNit maintains the state’s central repository of criminal history information.
What is a criminal record?
A criminal record is an official document detailing a person’s criminal convictions, pending criminal cases, prior arrests, and other interactions with law enforcement agencies. Additional names for a criminal record include criminal history record, rap sheet, and police record.
As with marriage records and court records, criminal records are generally public records in the United States and can be accessed through a criminal background check. However, public access to specific criminal record information varies from state to state.
In the State of New Jersey, criminal records are tightly controlled, and only government entities, private detectives, attorneys, and those enlisting the services of the individual may request the criminal record of a third party.
What is included in a New Jersey criminal record?
As criminal records are kept by law enforcement agencies at all levels of government in the United States, a New Jersey criminal record may vary in format and content depending on the law enforcement database from which it is accessed.
Generally, a New Jersey criminal record will include the following information:
- A person’s full name and possible aliases
- Personal information such as age, date of birth, sex, ethnicity, height, weight, and other physical characteristics
- Fingerprints and mugshot
- Misdemeanor criminal offenses and convictions
- Felony criminal offenses and convictions
- Past and outstanding arrest warrants
- Pending and dismissed charges
Why would someone access a criminal record?
There are many reasons to access a criminal record.
- Most commonly, people search criminal records as a way to run a background check on a particular person.
- They’re also used by law enforcement to identify or locate people involved in unsolved crimes or by the court system to determine an appropriate sentence after a conviction.
- An individual may want to access his or her own record as well. It’s not uncommon for people to request their own criminal records to see what information is public.
- In some cases, a record could be inaccurate or include outdated information. If that’s the case, it’s important to have the record corrected.
What’s the difference between an infraction, misdemeanor, and felony?
Arrests and convictions listed on a criminal record are separated into three categories: infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies.
To give a better understanding of the information listed on a criminal record, here’s a quick overview of each category of offense:
- Infraction – An infraction is a minor violation of the law that is regulated at the state level. Punishment for an infraction is usually just a fine or a written warning, rather than a jail or prison sentence. Examples of infractions include minor traffic violations, public nuisance offenses, and littering.
- Misdemeanor – A misdemeanor is a crime that is more serious than an infraction, yet less serious than a felony. Generally, a misdemeanor punishable by a term of imprisonment of less than a year, or by a term of probation. An individual convicted of a misdemeanor is more likely to serve time in a county or local jail than in a federal or state prison. Examples of misdemeanors include driving under the influence, most drug abuse violations, and petty theft.
- Felony – A felony is the most serious type of crime, often characterized by the use of a weapon during a crime, serious injury to a victim, and/or holding a person against their will. Felony convictions typically result in a term of imprisonment of more than one year in a state or federal prison. Examples of felonies include rape, murder, and grand theft.
What is the difference between a New Jersey arrest record and a New Jersey criminal record?
While an arrest record is an official document including the details of a specific arrest, a criminal record is a more comprehensive document that includes a person’s entire criminal background known to law enforcement agencies.
How do I search for a New Jersey criminal record?
Unlike many states, New Jersey does not provide a searchable online database of criminal history information that is accessible to the general public. In order to request a copy of your New Jersey criminal record, you must have your fingerprints scanned at an approved fingerprint capturing site run by IDEMIA, a private company.
Follow these steps to request a copy of your New Jersey criminal record:
- Schedule an appointment to have your fingerprints scanned. You can do this online at the IdentoGO website by selecting your local police department, entering the proper service code, and scheduling an appointment at a convenient time. An appointment may be scheduled over the phone by calling 1-877-503-5981.
- Arrive at the fingerprint capturing site on the day of the appointment and pay a fee of $42.80. Be sure to wear a facial covering to the facility and observe social distancing protocol due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
- After the fingerprint scan, expect to wait 10 business days for the request to be processed and the criminal record (if one exists) to be delivered to your address.
If you have questions or concerns about requesting a copy of your criminal record in New Jersey, call the New Jersey Division of State Police Criminal Information Unit at (609) 882-2000 or send an email to [email protected].
How do I obtain a physical copy of a New Jersey criminal record?
Upon receiving an electronic fingerprint scan and submitting a criminal record request, a physical copy will be delivered to the address listed on your application. If you do not receive a criminal record it means that no such record exists under your name in New Jersey.
Why can’t I access a New Jersey criminal record?
With limited exceptions, New Jersey state law only allows state residents to request a copy of their own criminal record. If you are authorized to obtain the criminal records of others in the states, but a request yields no record, it may have been expunged or exist under a different name.
How do I search for New Jersey criminal case court records?
The New Jersey Judiciary provides a searchable online database of criminal case records called PROMIS/Gavel Public Access that anyone can use to search for New Jersey court records. However, select records may be unavailable for public viewing for a number of reasons.
If you are unable to find the criminal case court record you are looking for with the search, use the New Jersey Courts: Local Courthouses directory to find the contact information of the district or county court that processed the case. Next, make a public records request to the court’s clerk of court.
Does New Jersey allow criminal records to be sealed or expunged?
In 2019, the New Jersey Clean Slate Law was passed stating that any person that has not had a criminal conviction in the past ten years may have their entire New Jersey criminal record expunged, no matter how many past convictions the person has on their record. The 10-year period begins once all conditions of past convictions have been satisfied, including any prison terms, probation terms, community service, or fines/fees.
A petition for the expungement of a New Jersey criminal record may be filed online. Visit this NJ.gov page for more information on the clean slate law, and read this PDF explaining how to file a Petition for Expungement with the New Jersey Superior Court.
How can I have false information on a New Jersey criminal record corrected?
If you believe that your New Jersey criminal record contains inaccurate information, or if an arrest has been falsely attributed to you in a case of identity theft, get in touch with the New Jersey Division of State Police, Criminal Information Unit at (609) 882-2000 or [email protected] and ask how to submit a challenge to the information.
How long are New Jersey criminal records kept on file?
New Jersey criminal history information is kept on file for an indefinite period unless a successful Petition for Expungement is passed in the state’s Superior Court.