New Jersey’s New Crime Database of Charges, Arrests, and Criminal Cases
Following in the footsteps of the first database of internal affairs investigations in New Jersey, the first data compilation of New Jersey arrests for serious crimes between 2017 and 2022 just went public on the Attorney General’s website. The Attorney General’s office and the Office of Justice Data (OJD) released the Criminal Justice Data Dashboard, which allows the public to look up information on the state’s arrests, including documents that trace each arrestee’s journey through the judicial system.
Specific Information New Jersey is Collecting on Crimes
The database includes warrants, charges, case statuses, final dispositions, court fees, restitution, some victim information, and fines. It also includes demographic information, though just like the internal affairs investigation data does not identify individual officers, only the subject matter of the investigations and dispositions, identifying information is not included. It catalogs drug offenses, shoplifting, weapons violations, kidnapping, homicide, and other crimes but does not name defendants.
Governing Law on NJ Crime Database
The dashboard is now open to the public in compliance with N.J.S.A. 52:17B-111.1(1)(a), which mandates the state collection, recording, and analysis of defendant data for New Jersey adult offenses, meaning indictable crimes and disorderly persons offenses. One of the statute’s purposes is to assist governing officials in basing decisions and policies on data-driven analyses. It also fulfills the need for transparency to maintain public trust that the criminal justice system is fair.
The statute commands the Attorney General’s office to create a data collection program targeting criminal defendants 18 or over when they committed an indictable or disorderly persons offense. The law specifies the sources of information, including the Division of State Police, county prosecutors, the Public Defender’s Office, court administrative offices, and the Department of Corrections. The law also requires the collection of demographic information, such as race, gender, ethnicity, and age of defendants, and the type of records to collect, including documents revolving around arrest, criminal complaints, dismissals, pleas, diversionary programs, victim cases, plea agreements and negotiations, court fees and fines, and restitution.
Information on NJ Criminal Cases that Remains Confidential
However, the statute prohibits disclosing confidential personal identifying information, such as names, aliases, addresses, social security numbers, telephone numbers, driver’s license numbers, email addresses, social media addresses, or other identification information about defendants or victims. Further, the law cites the Attorney General’s office as responsible for publishing annual summaries of the data collected on its website and submitting reports to the Governor and Legislature.
Governing Body and Participating Agencies in New Criminal Database in NJ
For this colossal project, the OJD compiled data from state, county, and local courts and various agencies’ records systems and integrated them into this one Criminal Justice Data dashboard. The OJD’s authorized function is to supply the Attorney General’s office with data and statistical analysis to inform policymakers, stakeholders, advocates, and the public.
Thus, the dashboard is within the purview of the OJD’s functions. The database provides a comprehensive overview without compromising anyone’s privacy. It also checks the criminal justice system to ensure its fairness. To date, the data reveals 237,610 arrests and 118,860 multiple arrests, including the counties with the most arrests, specifically Essex and Camden. It also shows demographic data: 38% black defendant charges and 56% White/Hispanic. Most crimes were drug offenses, but the cluster of assault, threat, and stalking came in second before drug paraphernalia offenses.
Purpose of Collecting Crimes, Arrests, Dispositions, and Other Information in New Jersey
Since criminal defendants continue to move through the system, the dashboard is an ongoing effort that requires periodic updates. This data compilation hopes to support lawmakers, advocacy groups, and government leaders in examining the people who get arrested and the nature of their violations, to address how to tackle issues the data reveals. However, it may also have unknown impacts on policing, such as using the data to profile criminal suspects based on the dashboard’s crime demographic data.
If You’re in the NJ Crime Database, What Does an Expungement Offer in Your Personal and Professional Life?
Those who may become a public statistic on the Attorney General’s website may consider removing such data from their criminal records by expunging convictions when eligible. Expungement means removing or sealing arrest and conviction records so they do not appear in searches. Anyone with criminal arrests, charges, or convictions for non-violent offenses may want to expunge their individual histories to avoid negative consequences regarding housing, education, and employment opportunities. No one wants to lose financial and other options due to an arrest or conviction on their record.
Non-violent indictable offenses, disorderly persons offenses, some indictable offenses, and minor drug offenses are eligible for expungement. However, aggravated criminal sexual contact, kidnapping, luring, enticing, manslaughter, arson, murder, conspiracy, death by auto, sexual assault, robbery, endangering the welfare of a child, treason, false imprisonment, perjury (or the attempts or aiding or abetting any of these crimes) are not. A DUI/DWI is also not able to be erased.
Individuals with serious marijuana convictions, such as distribution or possession with intent to distribute large amounts of marijuana, even near school zones or public housing, may seek expungement after three years. Eligible applicants must verify the crime to be expunged and be an individual who was arrested but not charged, acquitted, or dismissed, or have completed all terms of their sentence and waited for the eligibility period: two years for municipal ordinance violations, one year for minor drug offenses for youth offenders, five years for disorderly persons offenses (some cases shorter duration depending on the circumstances), or five years for indictable crimes. You can learn more about the New Expungement Law that Expands Eligibility in New Jersey by clicking the link.
Where an Expungement Lawyer Comes In
To get relief, expungement applicants petition the court for a hearing and order, supplying proof of notice, filing fee, and petition to the superior court in the county where the arrest or conviction occurred. Upon proper notice to all interested parties (police and victims, for example), a hearing occurs where the judge approves the expungement. The applicant sends copies of the order to all parties required to receive notice. The entire process takes months and must be meticulously completed to ensure success.
An applicant must precisely fulfill all parts of the process to ensure the court will not grant an expungement. Without an expungement, individuals with criminal records suffer economic and personal hardship. As such, hiring an expungement attorney is highly advisable for your expungement needs. Our New Jersey expungement lawyers understand how to obtain verification of arrests and convictions, dispositions, complete all necessary information, serve any and all interested party, and assemble what courts need to approve an expungement order. Otherwise, you waste time by having the court deny your application or delay your hearing without the proper proof of service and other required documents.
Save time. Contact The Tormey Law Firm to speak with an NJ criminal and expungement attorney regarding your application free of charge. We assist clients 24/7, so call (201)-556-1570 if you have questions about clearing your criminal record. Our lawyers also assist clients with expungements to restore gun rights, removal from Megan’s Law, and vacating final restraining orders, all of which may hold you back from living your best life in New Jersey and beyond. Reach out to us about what you need to truly put behind you and find out how we can help.