A record of arrest or conviction can haunt a person forever. It can create barriers to employment, housing and education, among other pursuits. Many people can solve this problem if they are eligible to expunge (clear) their criminal record.
In October 2018, important changes to New Jersey’s expungement law took effect that impact eligibility.
Shorter Waiting Period for Indictable Convictions
The waiting period to expunge an indictable conviction and up to two disorderly persons offenses, or a “crime spree,” is reduced from 10 to six years after your most recent conviction, payment of fine, release from incarceration, or completion of probation or parole, whichever comes latest, with some exceptions.
Increased General Eligibility
The number of convictions that can be expunged has increased from an indictable conviction and up to two disorderly persons convictions, to an indictable conviction and up to three disorderly persons convictions. Previously, if you had no indictable convictions, you could expunge up to three disorderly persons convictions; now you can expunge up to four. In other words, you can now expunge four convictions, including one that may be indictable.
The law now allows for expungement of multiple convictions under a single judgment of conviction, or the same date of conviction, or multiple convictions 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. The crimes and offenses must have all taken place within New Jersey and you cannot have any prior or subsequent convictions outside of the spree to be eligible for this relief.
Removal of Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) Expungement Barrier
Having criminal charges dismissed after completion of a supervisory treatment or diversion program will no longer be a bar to the expungement of convictions. Note that the PTI bar still remains for applications to expunge a record of juvenile adjudications.
Allows Expungement if Fine is Unpaid under Certain Circumstances
If a fine that is currently subject to collection is not yet satisfied “due to reasons other than willful noncompliance,” but the time requirement is otherwise satisfied, the court may grant your expungement. The court will still provide for the continued collection of any outstanding amount owed that is necessary to satisfy the fine or the entry of a civil judgment for the outstanding amount. Probation records related to outstanding fines may be retained as confidential by the court to aid collection and may not be released to the public. Note: This relief is not available for disorderly persons or lesser offenses.
Non-Expungeable Offenses Added
A new offense, “leader of child pornography network,” was added to the list of non-expungeable offenses. A new exception, “strict liability vehicular homicide,” was carved out of the prohibition against expunging homicide.
If you are seeking expungement of a criminal conviction or “crime spree,” you must provide a statement with affidavit or verification that you have never been granted expungement, sealing, or similar relief regarding a criminal conviction or “crime spree” by any state or federal court.
For more information on recent amendments to the expungement law, or expungement generally, please contact LSNJ’s Prisoner Reentry Project. PREP provides assistance in civil matters to eligible inmates and those with criminal records to help their successful transition back into society.
This information last reviewed: Mar 6, 2019