Great news! On May 7, 2015 the New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee reported favorably upon legislation which would shorten expungement of criminal convictions. In addition this proposed legislation will permit Drug Court graduates to expunge their entire criminal record. This will provide a significant incentive for Defendants to enter and complete Drug Court.
The proposed legislation would shorten the waiting time for an expungement of a criminal conviction from 10 years to 5 years. The legislation would also permit the expungement of up to two disorderly persons convictions. Presently no disorderly persons convictions may be expunged if a criminal conviction is expunged.
The proposed legislation will also reduce the waiting period for the expungement for disorderly person’s offenses and petty disorderly persons offenses from 5 years to 3 years. This will be extremely beneficial to youthful offenders given the fact that many such offenses occur with the 18-23 year old population (e.g. possession of marijuana). This suggested language is an important step towards ensuring young people have a better opportunity to join work force. Another very important change in the proposed legislation would be the automatic expungement of arrests which do not result in conviction. Under the current law if you are charged with a crime or disorderly persons offense and if the charge is subsequently dismissed or you are found not guilty, you must still engage an attorney and file a formal expungement petition. The proposed rule change will make such expungements almost automatic.