Changes to NJ Expungement Law Relax, Broaden the Process
Thanks to recent 2016 amendments to New Jersey’s expungement laws, more people are able to have past criminal and arrest records erased. In this day and age, even a minor incident involving law enforcement from years (or even decades) ago, can bar individuals from job opportunities and promotions, educational pursuits, and ownership of firearms. As a result, the consequences of past criminal conduct reach far beyond the immediate fines, incarceration, probation, or diversionary program admittance issued by the judge.
Nj Expungement Law is governed pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:52-1 – 2C:52-32. The state legislature made three major changes in 2016. These changes open the door to faster, less expensive, and more convenient expungements for many.
The changes include:
- Expungement of an ENTIRE criminal record is possible after successful completion of Drug Court;
- The wait time for filing many different types of expungements has been reduced;
- Arrests that have not resulted in convictions, entry into diversionary program, or downgraded to ordinances may be expunged immediately by way of direct application to the municipal court of origination.
The first major change is a wonderful opportunity (and incentive) for individuals who have successfully completed Drug Court. Upon completion they may have their ENTIRE criminal record expunged. This amendment demonstrates the commitment that New Jersey courts and legislature have toward the Drug Court program.
The second major change applies to people who have been convicted of either Disorderly Persons Offenses or Indictable Offenses. For those convicted of DPs, the wait time to apply for an expungement has decreased from 5 years to 3 years. For those convicted of Indictable Offenses, the wait time has been decreased from 10 years to five years if the applicant can demonstrate that an expungement is consistent with the public interest.
Finally, the third change is notable because it allows for a smoother, easier expungement application for individuals who have municipal charges dismissed. Prior to the 2016 change, those applicants were at the mercy of the same expungement process as people with convictions. Now the process has been streamlined. Upon a dismissal, the applicant need only fill out an expungement form at the municipal court where the matter was heard. Once the municipal court judge signs off on the application, it is transferred to the county superior court. Once a judge at the county level signs the expungement, the matter will be expunged.
These changes to NJ expungement law will play a huge role in many people’s lives by allowing them to explore employment, educational, and other opportunities that were previously unavailable to them. If you are in need of an expungement of your New Jersey conviction, arrest or juvenile record, please feel free to call our NJ Expungement Firm at 732.924.4200.