Governor Christie Signs A New Law Making New Jersey Expungements Easier


New Jersey just passed a new law that will make it easier for certain people with criminal records to “expunge” their criminal record. The new changes will take place on April 18, 2016. Under the new law, an individual seeking an expungement for an indictable offense or crime can also request the court expunge up to two petty disorderly or disorderly persons convictions as well. The new law signed by Governor Christie on January 19, 2016, implements a variety of changes to the expungement process:

Shorter waiting periods:

An individual convicted of a crime or disorderly persons offense in New Jersey must wait for a period of time after a judgment of conviction before becoming eligible to apply for an expungement. The waiting periods vary depending on the severity of the offense in question – for criminal offenses, the period was 10 years; for less serious disorderly persons offenses, a person would have to wait 5 years.

Under the new law, a criminal offender may petition the Court for expungement after 5 years have elapsed from the date of conviction, payment of fine, completion of probation or parole, or release from incarceration, whichever is later. Similarly, the time period for those with records of disorderly persons offenses now only must wait 3 years. To permit expungement at the newly-reduced waiting period, the Court must be satisfied that “expungement is in the public interest, giving due consideration to the nature of the offense, and the applicant’s character and conduct since conviction.”

The new law also allows an individual to petition for an expungement of a disorderly persons offense prior to the three-year waiting period if the waiting period had otherwise been satisfied except for the payment of fines. The petitioner must show that s/he complied with a payment plan or could not pay due to compelling circumstances.

Drug Court Graduates:

The new law also affords the benefit of expungement as a matter of course to those who have successfully completed a term of special probation in New Jersey’s Drug Court program.

Arrest Records:

Even if somebody is charged with a crime, but never convicted, records of arrest or criminal complaints may still exist and be found during a background check or public records search. The new law additionally streamlines the process for ensuring that such records are expunged after charges are dismissed. Therefore, the expungement of many dismissed charges will occur automatically.

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