The Governor has signed a Bill that is going to dramatically change expungement law. Specifically, the proposed legislation would allow an individual to expunge disorderly persons offenses even if they had been convicted of an indictable offense. Better yet, application to do so could be made withing five years of the latest conviction date. This would be subject to a a finding by the court that the granting of the expungement is within the public interest. This is a continuation from the 2010 revisions. It would also shorten the waiting period from 5 years to 3 years for a disorderly persons offense. The new law should take effect in the next 90 days
Under current law, a petitioner has to wait 10 years to expunge an indictable criminal offense. In 2010, there were significant changes to the expungement laws that made it possible to expunge crime after 5 years, but this “early pathway” option was discretionary. The Judge would not grant this relief unless there were compelling reasons presented why the expungement was in the public interest. This is still the case, but now it is possible to expunge other convictions when it was not possible before.
Under the new proposed law, crimes could be expunged after 5 years (from the date of conviction, end of prison or probation, or payment of fines, the latest of the dates) and you will also be able to expunge up to two disorderly persons offenses along with it. On many occasions I represented people who could not expunge their entire record because the law would not allow it.
This is a huge step, and the sort of change to the law that I’ve been telling clients to look out for. Every week I get calls from former and prospective clients who I tell that it’s not time yet to clean your record or that you can not expunge your record due to the number of convictions you have on your record. In a few months, that will not be the case.
Additionally, the most common type of offense, disorderly persons (misdemeanor) offenses, will now be eligible for expungement in 3 years instead of 5. This is an incredible change.
Moreover, cases resulting in dismissal and cases resolved through court imposed drug programs may be eligible for expungement much sooner than before.
For all those who have been suffering for years, losing employment opportunities, scared to go for that promotion, etc., now is the time to act and this is the change you have been waiting for.
The new law is somewhat confusing and is a little much to explain here without confusing a potential beneficiary. If you have any questions, we are available to answer your questions.