In New Jersey, the ability to get a prior arrest, charge, or conviction expunged from your criminal records gives you the chance to really start a new life, so your past does not continue to cast a dark cloud over the person you have become. On October 1, 2018, a new expungement law will become effective in New Jersey that increases the number of crimes an individual can expunge from their record and reduces the waiting period for expungement eligibility. Here’s what you need to know about upcoming changes to New Jersey expungement law in 2018.
The new law, outlined in Bill S-3307, was sponsored by Senator Stephen Sweeney and Senator Sandra Cunningham and enacted by Governor Chris Christie on December 19, 2017.
This soon-to-be applicable expungement policy increases the number of disorderly persons offenses (misdemeanor crimes) an individual can expunge from 3 convictions to 4 convictions for those who have not been convicted of an indictable offense. If you have been convicted of an indictable offense, the new law increases the amount of disorderly persons offenses you can expunge from 2 convictions to 3 convictions. This is significant because raising the limit will help individuals to clear their entire criminal record, which can be crucial when applying for housing, educational programs, and jobs.
Number of Offenses
Under the old expungement law, there was a strict rule that an individual could only expunge one conviction for an indictable offence (equivalent of a felony); however, under the new law, individuals can expunge more than one indictable offense when multiple indictable offenses are contained in a single judgment of conviction or where the indictable offenses were committed in a short period of time as part of a sequence of events and closely related in circumstances or interdependent. Allowing the expungement of multiple indictable offenses in those circumstances recognizes that they were likely committed as a result of a “crime spree”—or one greater lapse in judgment.
Wait times for expungement eligibility are also reduced under the new law. Previously, you needed to wait 10 years before seeking an expungement for an indictable offense. Under the new law, you can apply after 6 years. The wait period for the expungement of juvenile offenses was reduced from 5 years, under the old law, to just 3 years. The ability to apply for an early pathway expungement after 5 years did not change under the new expungement law.
Removal of Pre-trial Intervention Bar
Under New Jersey’s old expungement law, if you had an indictable offense that was dismissed under Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI), then you could not later have the record of a previous or subsequent disorderly persons offense or indictable offense expunged from your record. The new expungement law removes this bar and allows individuals who have had an indictable offense dismissed during PTI the ability to apply for expungement of prior or subsequent offenses.
Fines and Restitution
If you still owe a fine or restitution related to your conviction, but otherwise fulfill the requirement of 6 years for an expungement of a conviction, you can still apply for an expungement. The court will order a civil judgement for the remaining amount or set a condition that you repay the fine or restitution.
Need an Expungement in NJ?
For additional information regarding the new expungement law in New Jersey in 2018, contact the law offices of William Proetta Criminal Law at (201) 793-8018. If you would like to apply for an expungement in New Jersey, one of our experienced NJ expungement lawyers will examine your unique situation and answer all of your questions. Consultations are provided free of charge.