For many NJ residents with a criminal record, life just got a little bit better. Governor Chris Christie has officially signed off on a democrat-sponsored bill to make the expungement of criminal records easier, in large part by reducing the waiting periods and special drug related offenses.
Sponsors: This bill, known as A206, was sponsored by NJ Assemblyman Jerry Green, a democrat from Union County, and Assemblywoman L. Grace Spencer, also democrat from Essex County. Green discussed his enthusiasm for the bill, saying that “expungement offers an incentive against recidivism…giving people who currently have little chance of finding legal employment the opportunity to leave past mistakes behind them, find a job and be productive.” He wishes to fix a system that he says “works against” individuals who have “served their time and want to change and do better.” This type of criminal justice reform is in line with other similar policies recently enacted across the state.
Changes: Chief among the changes to old NJ expungement bills and laws include a reduced waiting period from ten years to five years for more serious convictions, and from five years to three years for disorderly persons charges. After this period under A206, the individual can apply for expungement. This date will begin counting from either the date of last conviction, fine payment, release from incarceration, or ending of parole or probation. Once all of these have been completed, the three year waiting period will begin.
Stipulation: The new expungement bill will go into effect in 90 days. Excluded from its’ effects include any crimes that are normally barred from expungement, including most violent crimes. It is meant to help individuals, who have truly reformed and are not a threat to society, be able to pick up the pieces of their lives and move forward as productive citizens, according to supporters of the bill, which is now law.
Companion Bill: This expungement bill, A206, went along with another, also signed into NJ law in early January. That law, A1662, deals directly with individuals who have suffered from identity theft. In the case that a person had his or her identity stolen, and the thief then committed criminal activities with their identity, those crimes would be sealed from the record since they were not actually committed by the person in question. This is a common sense bill that declared it would not be necessary for the individual to wait for the expungement period to have the criminal activity removed from their record, since it was not actually their crime.
For more information about expungement bill A206 or to learn more about clearing your criminal record, contact me, David C. Barry, for a free phone consultation at 732-238-8686 today.