In 2016, Governor Chris Christie signed a law that provides additional opportunities for individuals to clear their names in an overhaul of New Jersey’s expungement system. The new legislation cuts the expungement waiting period by 50 percent and makes some graduates of drug court eligible to have records sealed.
Expungement helps people who’ve served time to improve their chances of finding good jobs. The 2016 law cuts the waiting period for expungement of criminal convictions to five years from a prior 10-year period. The waiting period for expungement of a disorderly person’s offense has declined to three years from five years.
Under New Jersey’s new expungement process, the individual’s arrest records, detentions, or convictions may be placed under seal when approved by a judge. Those who’ve graduated from New Jersey’s probation program for people facing drug addictions (and who haven’t been convicted or charged with a new offense since graduation) may have their records sealed. According to John McKeon, D-Essex, a sponsor of the legislation, New Jersey drug court graduates demonstrate lower recidivism rates.
If you have been convicted of a criminal charge in New Jersey, an expungement may remove the charge from your record. Although you may need to wait to file for an expungement, it’s a good idea to file your paperwork as soon as possible.
Any individual may ask the court to expunge a prior criminal offense, including up to specific felony offenses:
• The process involves filing an expungement petition. It typically takes three to four months to grant the petition.
• When an in-person hearing is necessary, the process may take longer. An in-person hearing is unusual and happens only when a prosecutor makes an objection. This may happen in a drug dealing or distribution case.
• After the petition is granted, it usually takes another month for relevant New Jersey agencies, such as the New Jersey state police, to fully remove any records related to an incident.
Expungement can provide you with a fresh start. Contact The Law Office of John W. Tumelty, New Jersey Supreme Court Certified Criminal Trial Attorney, to discuss your next steps. Call 609.385.4010 to schedule an initial case review.