When people commit a crime in New Jersey, they can receive a criminal record. This can be accessed by the public, damaging the offender’s reputation and making it difficult for them to find or keep jobs, housing, and more. In the state of New Jersey, police have arrested nearly one million people on marijuana charges since 1990. This gives the state one of the highest marijuana arrest rates in the country. In the past, these convicted individuals may have a hard time trying to clear this crime from their records. However, new expungement reform signed into law by Governor Phil Murphy can make it easier for these individuals to do so.
What is Expungement?
With expungement laws, a person who is convicted of a crime in the state of New Jersey can ask the court to remove the mark from their record. Once this is done, the arrest and conviction can only be seen by certain agencies, such as federal authorities. This provides the individual with a clean slate in order to have a fresh start for their future. However, it is important to understand that not all crimes can be expunged, only ones that meet certain criteria.
New Jersey’s New Expungement Law
In December of 2019, Governor Phil Murphy signed a new law that allows residents of the state with multiple convictions eligible to seek a “clean slate” expungement. This is possible if they have not committed an offense in 10 years and were not convicted of a serious crime. In addition to this, the law creates a task force that automates the clean slate expungement system. The new law also requires low-level marijuana convictions to be sealed upon the disposition of the case. This can prevent convictions from being used against individuals in the future. It will eliminate filing fees for expungement as well.
Governor Murphy referred to the signing as a “historic day” and stated, “We are allowing residents with low-level drug and nonviolent offenses to have their record expeditiously expunged … so they can have a meaningful chance at a good job, an education and a strong future.”
The expungement law was approved by votes of 23-15 in the Senate and 48-21-1 in the Assembly. The part of the law that creates the clean-slate task force and elimination of filing fees will take effect immediately, while the rest of the law will take effect on June 15, 2020.
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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.