Expungement law in New Jersey has changed! Laws enacted in December 2017 enable expungement of a various arrests and convictions that previously could not be expunged. These laws took effect on October 1, 2018. Here are some highlights of the new law:
- The waiting period before a criminal conviction can be expunged is now lowered from ten years to six years. In some cases, that six-year wait can be lowered to five years, just as before. (The waiting period before disorderly persons convictions can be expunged remains unchanged);
- Previously, the number of disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons convictions that could be expunged was three. That number, assuming no independent criminal convictions, is increased to four. Convictions for multiple interdependent or closely-related-in-circumstances disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offenses occurring within a short period of time can be treated as a single conviction;
- As just mentioned, the number of disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons convictions that could be expunged was three. The new law allows an unlimited number of disorderly persons convictions to be expunged when two conditions are satisfied. The first condition is that the applicant has had no other convictions of any nature. The second condition (aye, there’s the rub) is that all of the disorderly persons convictions were entered on the same day. The arrests may have occurred on different days, separated by weeks, months or, theoretically, years, and the convictions may happen in different courts, but if they were all entered on the same day, they can be expunged when these conditions are satisfied;
- Previously, criminal convictions could be expunged if there were not more than two additional disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons convictions. The new law has raised that limit of additional disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons convictions (or any combination thereof) from two to three;
- Previously, no conviction could be expunged if the applicant has had one or more criminal charges dismissed as a result of successful completion of a diversion. The new law eliminated that bar;
- Satisfaction of fines and other financial obligations to the court arising from a criminal conviction are no longer a requirement to obtain an expungement when the non-satisfaction was not willful. Collection of financial obligations will be transferred to a different court, and the nature of the event that caused the obligation will be hidden from public view. Subsequent willful non-payment will cause the expungement to be vacated.
Previously the limit on the number of criminal episodes that could be expunged was one. That limit remains one, but is relaxed in some situations. Here are the situations:
- All criminal convictions for which expungements are sought are listed in a single judgment of conviction;
- All of the convictions related to crimes that were “interdependent” or closely related in circumstances and were committed as part of a sequence of events that took place within a comparatively short period of time.
Drafting Note for Expungement Lawyers: New specifications for the verification required by N.J.S. 2C:52-8b apply in some situations. Those situations relate to expungement applications for criminal convictions, and to interrelated disorderly persons convictions. Please review N.J.S. 2C:52-8b carefully to see the exact new requirements.
The official designation of the new law is P.L.2017, chapter 244. Chapter 244 changes eight separate statutes. The overview on this page outlines highlights. Much wording in those new statutes is convoluted. Outright internal contradictions exist. Eventually, judges will be called upon to interpret that convolution. Expungement Lawyers in New Jersey™ remain available to help straighten out this mess as painlessly as possible.