New Jersey Changes Expungement Law to Ease Eligibility Requirements
In another step toward criminal justice reform, Governor Chris Christie recently signed several bills to ease the restrictions on expungements for those seeking to erase their criminal records in New Jersey.
Three bills were signed by the Governor on Wednesday, which are intended to decrease the stringent criteria associated with current expungement law in New Jersey. The package of expungement legislation was backed by both Democrats and Republicans who hope to support efforts by people with criminal records to improve their lives and remove the hindrance of having arrests, charges, and/or convictions appear on a criminal background check.
Employment Application Questions about Criminal Records
The first piece of legislation, Bill S-3306, pertains to questions that employers are allowed to ask during the initial employment application process. Specifically, the bill prohibits employers from making any inquiries regarding an applicant’s criminal record, including an expunged criminal record, during the initial application process. Employers are permitted to ask about an applicant’s criminal record only after the initial application process has concluded. This bill expands the previous “ban the box” law that was passed three years ago. It is intended to allow applicants the opportunity to explain their previous run-ins with the law without being ruled out after a simple gaze at their application form.
Expungement Eligibility Waiting Periods and Number of Offenses
The second law, outlined in Bill S-3307, shortens waiting periods for expungement eligibility for certain offenses and increases the number of convictions that a person may have expunged. Specifically:
- The waiting period for expungement of eligible indictable crimes (felony offenses) has been reduced from 10 years to 6 six. In other words, you previously had to wait 10 years to submit an expungement application for a felony that is allowed to be expunged in New Jersey. Now, the waiting period is shortened to 6 years.
- A person was previously able to expunge up to 3 offenses (either 3 disorderly persons offenses, petty disorderly persons offenses, or a combination of each) in a single expungement application. Now, the number of disorderly and petty disorderly persons offenses eligible for expungement has been increased to 4. You are also able to expunge multiple offenses if they occurred within a short time frame and you haven’t been convicted of a subsequent offense.
- If a person has yet to finish paying a fine or restitution and this is the only outstanding thing preventing them from seeking an expungement, they may now be eligible if they haven’t been convicted of a subsequent offense and it is deemed in the public interest.
Expungement of Juvenile Records
The third piece of legislation, Bill 3308, reduces the time frame for individuals seeking to expunge a juvenile record. Previously, a person had to wait 5 years from being discharged from legal custody or supervision, or from entry of any other court order not involving custody or supervision, to apply for an expungement of their juvenile record. Now, the waiting period for expungement eligibility is 3 years to expunge an entire juvenile record. The only caveats are certain violent juvenile crimes that are ineligible for expungement; the person cannot have been adjudicated delinquent or convicted of another offense since; the person cannot have used a diversionary program to get an adult charge dismissed; and the person cannot have already had an adult conviction expunged.
Are You Eligible for an Expungement in New Jersey? Find out from Experienced NJ Expungement Lawyers
If you’re seeking to expunge your criminal record or you’re wondering if you’re eligible for an expungement in New Jersey, the experienced NJ expungement lawyers at The Tormey Law Firm can help. With the new expungement laws in effect, you may be able to clear your record before you thought possible. Contact us for a free consultation about your expungement eligibility at (201)-556-1570 or fill out the online form to begin discussing your potential expungement.
For additional information pertaining to this issue, access the following article: Christie signs criminal record expungement bills, calling them ‘life-saving’ measures