Changes to New Jersey Expungement Law October 1, 2018
Politicians in New Jersey realized that a person who is convicted of a crime (indictable offense or disorderly persons offense) or even numerous crimes should not have to live with a criminal record for life. One should not have to suffer forever from the employment, educational, and housing issues that accompany criminal charges and convictions. Therefore, on December 19, 2018, the New Jersey legislature passed Bill-3307, which enacted more lenient laws with regard to expunging one’s criminal record. The amendments to the laws shortened certain waiting periods for expungement eligibility and increased the number of convictions that may be expunged, among other things. Bill-3307 officially took effect on October 1, 2018.
If you are an adult and fall into any of the following categories you may be eligible to have your criminal act or acts expunged from your record even if you were not eligible to do so beforehand:
1. Based on the new laws, if you have a felony conviction you only need to wait six years, instead of ten years, to apply to expunge the conviction from your record. Furthermore, those who are eligible under the early pathway expungement, also known as the public interest expungement, can still apply to expunge a felony conviction after only five years.
It should be noted that the new laws also reduced the time period to expunge juvenile convictions from a five-year waiting period to a three-year waiting period.
2. Based on the new laws, if you have numerous convictions you may now be eligible to expunge all of those convictions. While under the old law you could only expunge one felony conviction, now you can expunge numerous felony convictions if the convictions are closely related in circumstances or in time.
If you have been convicted of one felony, the new expungement laws also allow you to expunge three disorderly or petty disorderly convictions. In the past one could only expunge two disorderly or petty disorderly convictions in addition to one’s felony conviction. It should be noted that this revision only applies if you have at most one felony conviction and at most three disorderly or petty disorderly convictions. However, if you have four or more disorderly or petty disorderly convictions you may still apply to expunge them if they are closely related in circumstances or time.
If you have not been convicted of a felony, the new expungement laws allow you to expunge four disorderly or petty disorderly convictions, where in the past you could only expunge two. It should be noted that to expunge these convictions you must have four or less disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons convictions. If you have more than four disorderly or petty disorderly convictions you may still be eligible to expunge them if they are closely related in circumstances or in time. Furthermore, these convictions can be expunged after only five years.
3. If you had felony charges dismissed against you based on pre-trial intervention, you are now eligible to expunge any prior or subsequent felony or misdemeanor convictions. Prior to the new laws, you were barred from doing so under N.J.S.A. 2C:52-14(f).
4. If you have been convicted for the sale, distribution, or possession of marijuana or hashish at a low-level offense you may now be eligible to expunge your conviction as the new laws made expungement eligibility more general.
Furthermore, if you have been convicted for the sale, distribution, or possession of marijuana or hashish at a low-level offense you may be eligible to expunge the conviction after only one year.
5. What happens if you are eligible to expunge your criminal record under the expungement laws but you still owe restitution fines? Under the new laws, you can still have your record expunged. The court can choose to provide for the continued collection of fines or the court can enter a civil judgment for the amount that is still owed. Under the old laws the courts did not have these options, and your expungement request would have been denied.
Even if you have been told in the past that you were ineligible for expungement of your criminal record, based on the new laws you may have become eligible. For more information feel free to contact an attorney with experience in expungement laws at…