The process that ex-offenders must go through to get their crimes expunged from their records has always been a complicated and long one in New Jersey, but after new legislation signed by former Governor Chris Christie goes into effect later in the year, the path for ex-offenders to get their lives back on the right path will become decidedly easier. The new laws do not go into effect until October 1st, 2018, yet being aware of the changes now – especially if you or a loved one is dealing with this type of situation – is information that can only benefit you before getting involved in the expungement process.
In a surprising compromise considering the current political climate going on in our country at the moment, both parties were able to come up with bipartisan legislation that many people agree will reform expungement laws that sorely needed to be changed. Not only to make it fair for people that have paid their debt to society, but to expand the program to a larger number of people, thereby giving an even greater number of ex-convicts a second chance at restarting their lives in a positive way. With our ever expanding population in prison, in addition to the number of people who are caught going in and out of the system constantly using taxpayer money, these new laws are a refreshing change to how things were previously being handled.
The most notable change that is taking place are the types of crimes that are considered to be “minor” by the state, and by doing this it will greatly increase the number of ex-offenders who will be able to expunge certain crimes off of their record. Some of these changes involve selling or possessing small amounts of marijuana or hashish. It has become a mainstream belief that if people convicted of minor crimes are able to fulfill their obligations fully to the court, that they should be rewarded with the ability to clear those criminal issues from their criminal records in order to be able to have a fresh start.
A separate aspect of these new laws deals with the amount of time it takes before both adults and juveniles are able to apply to get their prior crimes expunged. In the past, juveniles would have to wait at least five years before they could apply to get their records expunged, while adults would have to wait a whole decade. Ten years is a very long time to wait for any adult, and as a juvenile five years could seem like an entire lifetime. These new laws change this time period going forward as juveniles will only have to wait three years instead of five, and adults will now only have to wait six years, or in some cases it may only be five. This was a very important change that had to be made in order to give ex-offenders a fair and decent shot at rebuilding their lives and not just becoming another statistic of people who are forever stuck in the criminal justice system.
Other benefits of these new laws are more specific to whom it affects. For example, the limit of disorderly persons or petty disorderly person’s convictions that could be expunged has been raised from three to four. There also used to be a bar that had to be met for convictions being expunged if the person applying had any amount of criminal charges dismissed because of the successful completion of a diversion, but this no longer applies. Also, the limit of criminal convictions that could be expunged that includes additional disorderly persons or petty disorderly person’s convictions has been raised from a limit of two to three.
Savvy South Jersey Lawyer Helps Clients Clear Criminal Records Through Expungement in Camden, NJ
If you believe this new legislation could affect you or someone you love it is important to speak to a qualified criminal defense lawyer that knows how to handle the confusing ins and outs of these laws. Contact attorney Jill R. Cohen by calling 856-754-5501 or by filling out our online contact form to schedule a consultation today.
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