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2020 Changes to New Jersey’s Expungement Law | What to Know

A criminal record can severely impact you in a number of ways. Having a record can make it hard to do certain things, especially when it comes to getting a job. Luckily, expungement may be on the table. What is expungement? How can you have your record expunged? What changes have been made in 2020? Read on for more information.

What is Expungement?

Expungement means your criminal record is essentially sealed from the public. If your record is expunged, it will only be accessible to certain members of law enforcement, making it easier to live your life without a record following you. In New Jersey, many crimes but can be expunged, but it is important to note that some crimes cannot be expunged. These crimes include:

  • Murder
  • Kidnapping
  • Aggravated Sexual Assault
  • Robbery
  • Arson
  • Perjury
  • Distribution, sale, or possession with intent to distribute controlled substances

What Changes Have Been Made in 2020?

2020 has been a time of major change, especially in certain areas of the law. For example, earlier this year, we saw 68% of New Jersey residents vote in favor of marijuana legalization. In keeping with the moves toward legalization, some laws are beginning to change. For example, several marijuana-related convictions will now be considered disorderly persons offenses rather than criminal convictions when it comes to expungement. 

Other changes that have been made include:

  • If you have received an unrelated conviction prior to your most recent conviction, you may be able to have the most recent conviction expunged.
  • You now only have to wait 5 years from the date of conviction to request an expungement, rather than the previous minimum of 6 years. 
  • “Early pathways” expungements will now be reduced to 4 years after conviction, as long as the applicant can provide “compelling reasons” for the expedited expungement.
  • You can now have up to five disorderly persons penalties expunged from your record.
  • The “clean slate” expungement will now allow individuals to expunge all expugnable offenses 10 years after their most recent conviction.

What is the Process of Expungement?

In New Jersey, the expungement process is as follows:

  • File the Petition for Expungement, the Order for Hearing, and the Expungement Order
  • Write a cover letter detailing all of the documents the court will file
  • Distribute copies of these files to any government agency that was involved in your case
  • Attend the hearing to obtain a decision on the expungement petition

If you or a loved one has a criminal record and is interested in expungement, contact a criminal defense attorney today.


Kevin T. Conway is an experienced Bergen County criminal attorney handling DUI, DWI, traffic violations, violent crimes, sex crimes, illegal gun possession, shoplifting, and juvenile crimes. Attorney Conway is also experienced in commercial law matters, zoning law, and estate planning. If you need an aggressive criminal lawyer, contact The Law Office of Kevin T. Conway for a free consultation.

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