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What the New Expungement Law Could Mean For You

A new expungement reform law (P.L. 2019, c.269), signed into law on December 18, 2019, takes effect today.

Perhaps most importantly, the new law extends eligibility to many who previously were not eligible. Previously, an expungement applicant generally would be ineligible if convicted of distribution and possession with intent to distribute involving marijuana where the quantity was over 25 grams, or involving hashish where the quantity was over 5 grams; or for distributing or possession with intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of school property, or within 500 feet of public housing, a public park, or public building. Under the new law, these offenses are reclassified from “crimes” to “disorderly persons offenses,” meaning that they are now no longer presumed ineligible. Additionally, the new law makes it so that disorderly persons convictions for possession or use of marijuana or hashish do not count towards the maximum number of disorderly persons an expungement applicant can have before being considered ineligible. These changes are due largely to the national trend of liberalizing the criminal justice system’s approach towards marijuana, as well as a greater focus on rehabilitation over punishment.

There are a number of other changes designed to help make expungements easier to obtain, which include – among others – reducing the time an applicant has to wait to obtain an expungement in a number of scenarios, and increasing the amount of disorderly persons/petty disorderly persons offenses a person may have expunged in a petition seeking expungement of only disorderly persons/petty disorderly persons offenses. Additionally, the new law contains various measures to expedite the expungement process, including requiring the municipal court to follow additional procedures to take a more affirmative role in the quick sealing and clearing of a person’s record.

Clean Slate Expungement System

More dramatically, the new law establishes a “Clean Slate Expungement System,” which will eventually be set to automatically expunge a person’s entire criminal history after 10 years if the offenses in that person’s criminal history are eligible for expungement (i.e., that person does not have a conviction for a more serious or violent crime such as murder, robbery, and aggravated sexual assault). “Clean Slate” expungements apply even where a person has already received an expungement. Currently, this program requires an applicant to file a petition, but it will be replaced with an automated process which will be based upon the recommendations of a task force composed of representatives from the Office of the Attorney General, the Commissioner of Corrections, the Administrative Director of the courts, the Legislature, and the public. Additionally, an electronic filing system is being created to help expedite (and thereby make cheaper!) expungement petitions.

For any questions about expungements, do not hesitate to call the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Attorneys Hartman, Chartered.

Contact an Experienced Moorestown Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Criminal Charges in New Jersey

Were you arrested or charged with criminal charges in New Jersey? The consequences of a conviction could be severe, leaving you with a permanent criminal record and possibly even sending you to jail. That is why you need to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible about your case. The attorneys at Attorneys Hartman, Chartered have successfully represented clients charged with criminal charges in Camden County, Marlton, Mount Laurel, Cherry Hill, and throughout New Jersey. Call (856) 235-0220 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team. We have an office conveniently located at 68 E. Main Street, Moorestown, NJ 08057.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.

Disorderly conduct consists of any improper behavior such as fighting, threats of violence, or creating a dangerous atmosphere.