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LAW Home > Legal Topics > Criminal Charges and Convictions > Reentry > Expungement

2024 Changes to New Jersey’s Expungement Law Simplify the Filing Process


In January 2024, Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill that made significant changes to expungement law and clarified several provisions regarding expungement procedures. The new law further expanded relief for individuals seeking an expungement to help advance opportunities in employment, education, and housing without a past criminal history hindering their efforts.

You Now Have More Options as to Where to File Your Expungement

Previously, you had to file your expungement in the county where your most recent indictable offense was heard, or—if you didn’t have any indictable offenses—where your most recent disorderly person’s offense was heard. This often caused confusion for pro se litigants attempting to file an expungement petition on their own. For example, if an expungement petition was not filed in the county of the most recent indictable conviction, the county prosecutor would often object and require the petitioner to withdraw the petition and refile in the proper county. This overburdened the courts and caused processing delays.

Now, you may file an application for expungement in the county where you reside, or in any county where one or more of your convictions was heard. This amendment should make the expungement process more accessible and efficient and reduces the likelihood that an objection from the prosecutor may trigger the need to refile your application in another county.

Relaxed Waiting Periods for Payment of Fines are Extended to Clean Slate Petitions

Generally, the expungement law requires a petitioner seeking a regular or traditional expungement to wait a period of time before seeking expungement. This period of time depends on the number and type of offenses sought to be expunged and begins after the most recent conviction, release from incarceration, completion of probation or parole, and payment of fine, whichever comes latest. Regular or traditional expungements permit exceptions when: (1) the person has fully satisfied all necessary obligations but has not met the waiting period after payment of the court fines; or (2) the fines are still outstanding at the time of filing due to compelling circumstances related to an inability to pay, but the person otherwise qualifies for an expungement.

Before, petitioners seeking relief under the expungement law’s “Clean Slate”* provision were not entitled to these “financial need” exceptions. They were required to strictly fulfill all requirements of their sentencing before filing an expungement petition, despite any financial circumstances that might impact the ability to promptly pay fines. Clean Slate petitioners are now able to apply for the same exceptions.

Municipal Ordinance Violations Are Explicitly Included as Expungable under the Clean Slate Provision

Clean Slate originally did not specifically list the right to expunge municipal ordinance violations, so some courts denied petitioners who wanted to expunge municipal ordinance violations. In 2021, the New Jersey Superior Court decided that those eligible for clean slate relief can also expunge municipal ordinance violations in a single clean slate application before the court. In this recent legislative amendment, municipal ordinance violations are explicitly included within the scope of offenses which can be included and expunged in a single clean slate petition.

Clarification Regarding the Impact of Non-Expungable Convictions on the Ability to File a Petition

Previously, if you had a non-expungable conviction, you were not eligible to expunge any other indictable convictions—not because of the nature of the conviction, but because it was another indictable conviction in addition to a non-expungable conviction. The law has changed since then, but some courts might still have construed a non-expungable conviction as stopping an expungement petition altogether. Although this amendment is not technically a change in the law, it now expressly states that a person with a non-expungable conviction may be eligible to expunge other convictions on their record through the expungement petition process. These important changes help create a more accessible system, and in turn, more relief to the many individuals seeking to overcome the barriers related to a history of criminal or juvenile justice involvement.

*Under the Clean Slate provision, a petitioner may clear an entire record of offenses after a ten-year waiting period from the most recent conviction, release from incarceration, completion of probation or parole, and payment of fine, whichever comes latest.