On January 19, 2016, Governor Chris Christie signed into law a measure designed to ease the path toward expungement of criminal records in some cases. “Expungement” is “the extraction and isolation of all records on file” with courts, law enforcement agencies, jails and prisons. This new law will go into effect around the tax deadline (on April 18, 2016). Bill A206 is designed to give people who have been hindered in their search for lawful employment a second chance. The new law does not authorize the expungement of certain offenses, including most violent crimes (including murder, manslaughter, rape, robbery, arson and conspiracy) and DWIs.
Previously in New Jersey, the waiting period to expunge a criminal offense (felony) was ten years from the date of the conviction, payment of fine, satisfactory completion of probation or parole, or release from incarceration, whichever occurred later. This new law reduces the waiting period to five years. For disorderly persons (misdemeanors) or petty disorderly persons offenses, the waiting period has been reduced from five years to three years.
Those seeking to clear their criminal record need to file for an expungement with the Superior Court in the county where they were convicted. An experienced New Jersey expungement lawyer can guide you through every step of this process.
In a companion bill that was also signed into law (Bill A1662), victims of identity theft who have been charged with committing a crime perpetrated by the person who has stolen their identity can now motion to have all records relating to the criminal complaint sealed. Further, victims of identity theft can petition to have the court declare them factually innocent of the crime. Victims of identity theft are eligible to have their record expunged immediately and are not required to pay court costs.
Expungement of Criminal Records Serves Important Public Policy Goals
In our current troubled economy, people who have been convicted of crimes have little to no chance of finding a decent job. Many of these offenders then become caught in a vicious cycle of crime, being unable to gain lawful employment and move forward with their lives. Thus, they are forced to continue engaging in unlawful activity just to support themselves and their families. By clearing people’s criminal records and helping them reintegrate, society as a whole benefits from an overall reduction in crime rates.
In addition to hampering a person’s ability to find gainful employment, a criminal record can affect a person’s ability to secure safe housing or student loans. According to the bill’s sponsors, easing the path to expungement makes it easier for individuals to reintegrate back into society.
If a mistake you made in the past is limiting your ability to move forward in life, the experienced New Jersey criminal defense lawyers at Shebell & Shebell can help get your record expunged and clear your good name. We represent clients throughout New Jersey, including Monmouth County, Middlesex County, and Ocean County, including Howell, Freehold, Middletown, Shrewsbury, Wall, Union Beach and Neptune. For a free consultation, call us at 866-957-5237 or contact us online today.