Many people make mistakes that warrant the involvement of our criminal justice system. A large tenet of this system is to rehabilitate those people so they learn from their mistakes and are better able to abide by society’s laws.
Our justice system has a process in place where we formally forgive rehabilitated offenders for their mistakes. This process is called expungement and it appears that lawmakers may soon remove some of the hurdles involved.
Aside from paying fines and serving jail time, committing a crime can leave you with a criminal record. This record will follow you and can impact numerous aspects of your life including obtaining employment, housing, or a loan.
Expungement is the process whereby your criminal record is ‘expunged’ – meaning it is destroyed / sealed. In order to utilize this procedure, certain qualifications must be met:
- No more than one indictable offense can have been committed;
- The offense must qualify for expungement (for example – arson cannot be expunged whereas simple drug possession can be);
- The time limit requirement must be met. Each expungable offense has a set time period between when the offense occurred and when its expungement can be requested.
New Jersey lawmakers, as intelligently discussed in an article from the NJ Law Journal, are proposing a number of bills that would ease the expungement process. These bills passed the initial stages without opposition, and appear to be on course for approval by the governor.
The Bills are aimed at both easing the expungement requirements, as well as learning how best to address this important process moving forward.
Bill #1 – A206
- Reduces the statutory waiting period on most crimes from 10 years to 5 years
- The reasoning being that people will either commit a crime or they wont – requiring an additional 5 year waiting period before expungement serves no purpose
- Automatically provides for expungement upon successful completion of the drug court program
- Required expungement, with no charge, for individuals against whom charges are dismissed or are found not guilty
Bill #2 – A1662
- Requires expungement for all those people whom are victims of identity theft.
Bill #3 – A1815
- Creates an expungement committee task force
- Attempts to determine:
- Whether expungement should be automatic – not requiring a petition
- Whether expungement should be extended to those with multiple convictions
As we can see from these proposed bills, the hurdles to expungement are eroding. If you have been convicted of a crime and are interested in learning more about this vital procedure, contact our team of experienced attorneys at 1-888-815-3649 for a free consultation.