There is increasing concern over the efficiency of our State’s court system. Everyone seems to want the system to work more efficiently. The most obvious examples of this desire is the soon-to-be-implemented criminal justice reform package (bail reform and speedy trial), which was the subject of prior blog posts. But other procedures are being implemented that will hopefully make the Courts run more smoothly, including the new expedited expungement procedure for certain non-indictable offenses. Municipal court defendants with eligible offenses should take immediate advantage of this procedure.
An expungement allows someone convicted of an offense to, in effect, hide the fact of that conviction from certain individuals and entities. The primary benefit seems to be in the area of background checks by prospective employers. The expungement procedure for an indictable (felony) conviction appears in the New Jersey criminal code. Anyone who is in the running for an expungement should take advantage of this procedure as soon as they are able to satisfy all of the statutory criteria. (Not every offense is eligible for expungement. Further, a certain amount of time must have passed since the completion of the sentence before the application can be filed with the court.)
The expungement process requires a fair amount of work, and can take many months to complete successfully. As of April 18, 2016, the criminal code was amended to allow for the expedited expungement, without the assessment of a fee, of all information concerning or relating to an arrest or charge for a disorderly persons offense, petty disorderly persons offense, or ordinance violation, where the charge has been disposed of with a dismissal, acquittal at trial, or discharged without a finding of guilt by the defendant. Continue reading