Expunging the Records in Your Mental Health History can Put You on the Path to Purchasing and Possessing a Firearm

New Jersey allows those with criminal records to expunge records relating to arrests, criminal proceedings, and convictions. The law’s authorization for expungement extends to those with convictions for all indictable crimes but the most serious, as well as disorderly persons offenses, petty disorderly offenses, and municipal ordinance violations. However, the applicant for expungement must wait until the legal waiting periods are over before applying. The object is to give people second chances to rehabilitate and regain rights to pursue jobs, education, housing, and protection through firearms. 

Similarly, an individual may expunge certain mental health records upon proof of their recovery or remission, also allowing them to move on and regain their Second Amendment rights. After a criminal expungement, an individual can typically regain their ability to own a gun, while after a mental health expungement, an individual most probably can. Expunging a prior voluntary or involuntary commitment and any records contained in your mental health history is no easy task. Needless to say, it requires the skill and insight of an experienced gun rights lawyer who has handled many of these complex mental health expungements in the past. To speak with a seasoned firearms attorney now about your options and learn how we can assist with the process of obtaining a mental health expungement and subsequently applying for a gun permit in New Jersey, call 973-524-7238 today.

New Jersey Expungement of Mental Health Records Law

N.J.S.A. 30:4-80.8 permits anyone who was voluntarily or involuntarily committed to apply for expungement of records regarding commitment, mental health services, or determinations of endangerment to self or others. The rules and procedures for these applications are outlined in statute sections N.J.S.A. 30:4-80.8 through N.J.S.A. 30:4-80.11.  An individual may apply to the superior court for a mental health expungement. Eligible records include those concerning commitments to mental health facilities or services, determinations that an individual is dangerous, incapacitated, or voluntarily committed themselves to a mental health facility. It does not include other documents associated with commitment, like mental health diagnoses, observations, and consultations. 

Criteria for Expunging Mental Health Records

The superior court judge reviewing the application for expungement of mental health records must be persuaded that the applicant has demonstrable improvement or proof of remission since their release from a mental health facility before granting an expungement. The applicant has no waiting period before applying but can apply to the court in the county where the mental health facility of their commitment is located when they can prove they are no longer in need of services. 

Documents and Information Required for Mental Health Expungement

The application must convince a judge of their rehabilitation or recovery by painting a solid picture of their healthy reintegration into society as a reputable person in their community. They must also supply the court with their mental health history from other facilities they were voluntarily or involuntarily committed to and other mental health facilities they sought help from, with or without commitment. Their application should also include other mental health diagnoses, any criminal history as a juvenile or adult, and a detailed explanation of the circumstances of their commitment to a mental health facility. 

Factors Influencing Mental Health Record Expungement Decisions

Once a court believes the applicant is no longer a danger to the public and expungement is not against the public’s interest, it can grant the expungement application. A court is more apt to believe an applicant no longer poses a danger to self or others and that an expungement is within the public interest based on proof of employment, education, mental health maintenance, and changed circumstances since the commitment and expungement application. A favorable risk assessment by a reputable psychologist or psychiatrist is also persuasive to the court.

Strategies for a Successful Mental Health Expungement

Other helpful strategies for a successful application include providing favorable character references of employers, co-workers, family, friends, neighbors, and other community members. Awards and certificates verifying good character as a volunteer or member of charitable organizations or non-profits to benefit disadvantaged populations and other activities that show goodwill and character are likewise convincing that the applicant is not a danger and granting an expungement is in line with public interests. All evidence of a favorable reputation helps make the case for granting the application because a doctor’s note is not enough when one of the goals is to recover gun ownership rights. 

How Legal Knowledge Enhances a Petition to Expunge Mental Health Records in New Jersey

Since gun laws are strict in New Jersey, a mental health records expungement application must be airtight. That means an applicant would be wise to seek the advice of a gun rights attorney familiar with mental health expungements to suggest the best ways to make an application stronger. For example, an attorney is likely to advise that an applicant expunge criminal records before applying for a mental health expungement. Additionally, if they are a named defendant in a restraining order or extreme risk protective order, an attorney may advise getting those removed or terminated first. The same expungement, removal, or resolution approach also applies to out-of-state criminal records and outstanding arrest warrants. Clearing them first strengthens the application.  

Mental Health Background Checks in New Jersey FPIC Applications

Applications for New Jersey firearms purchaser identification cards (FPIC) necessary to buy guns include questions regarding mental health commitments or confinements. Once a court grants expungement of all commitment records, applicants can answer they have none. Once all records of commitment or psychiatric confinement are deleted, an FPIC applicant is not automatically disqualified.  However, the right is not absolute in New Jersey. New Jersey police make the final determination based on New Jersey law, specifically, whether an individual is a danger to the public. An application for an FPIC requires consent to divulge mental health records, which may contain expunged records.

Obtaining a Gun Permit Despite Your Expunged Mental Health History

In determining whether the FPIC issuance would “not be in the interest of the public health, safety or welfare,” under N.J.S.A.2C:58-3c(5), the New Jersey law enforcement authorities considering an application may deny the application after reviewing an applicant’s mental health records. However, a mental health expungement determination means a judge deems the applicant no longer a threat to society. Thus, an expungement and FPIC application must give authorities reason to weigh an application’s strengths with supplementary documents, such as letters of recommendation, volunteer activities, employment, and the like.

It should be clear that an individual’s gun rights hinge on the completeness and persuasiveness of an expungement application. It must be beyond reproach. As such, only a highly experienced gun rights attorney can adequately help you get an expungement of your mental health records when you wish to recover your right to purchase and possess a firearm. With a firearms lawyer’s guidance, you will know which documents to prepare, who to contact, and where to find the evidence to prove your good character and recovery. After a judge grants an expungement, your attorney may also help you use the application supplemental materials to strengthen your application for an FPIC and/or carry permit.

Second Amendment Rights Lawyers to Handle Your Mental Health Expungement in NJ

Your Second Amendment rights are essential. Our team is committed to assisting individuals in criminal and mental health expungement processes in Chatham, Florham Park, Parsippany, Randolph, Morris County, and the greater New Jersey area. Get the experienced legal help you need with a mental health expungement from a tested and proven gun rights attorney in New Jersey by contacting 973-524-7238 or contacting us online to receive a free consultation.