Former Governor Chris Christie recently signed into law three bipartisan bills that have changed the way ex-convicts are able to get previous minor convictions taken off of their permanent record. It was one of Christie’s last acts as Governor of New Jersey after being in that position for the last eight years and the plan is for the new laws to take effect on October 1st, 2018. In what has to be considered a rare moment of agreement both parties came up with the new laws as a way for minor offenders to be able to clear their record in a shorter time, to help make more people eligible to be able to expunge their criminal record as well as make it more difficult for possible employers to question people about their past when applying for a new job.
These new laws are considered a major change in how New Jersey deals with the expungement process in the state and they were made in the hopes of greatly increasing the amount of ex-offenders who are able to get these minor convictions taken off of their record. This was clearly not the case the way the laws were created in the past, but going forward this new path should make it easier for those that have paid their debt to society to be able to not have to suffer the dire consequences for the rest of their life especially due to minor crimes.
One of the biggest changes that these bills make is that it expands the number of crimes that are considered to be minor by the courts. By doing this a larger number of people are able to apply for the process of expungement and in turn it increases the amount of people that will be able to start over with a clean slate if they complete all that is asked of them. This process used to be a lot more difficult but with this huge change this will hopefully not be the case any longer.
Another one of the big changes lowers the amount of time an ex-offender has to wait before they are able to apply to try and get that record expunged. For adults who have committed a minor crime that timeframe drops from ten years to six years and in some specific cases it can even drop down to five years. For juveniles who are in this situation it has lowered the wait time for their appeal from five years to three years, which may not be seen as big of a jump as it is for adults but three years in the eyes of a juvenile is a much shorter wait than five years. By lowering this timeframe it allows a quicker turnaround time for those ex-convicts hoping to clear their name and start anew, a path that both parties agree is a fairer way for these people to take.
The Pre-trial Intervention or “PTI bar” was a rule that was put into place that stopped those that had a felony dismissed because of PTI from being able to clear certain types of misdemeanors or felonies. With the new legislation being passed this will no longer be the case as this bar will no longer be in effect. This is yet another reform that alters the criminal record expungement process in New Jersey and if it has the intended consequences lawmakers are anticipating it will be a good deal for everyone in the state.
With new laws come a new responsibility of knowing how to handle these cases in the courts. If you or someone you love is dealing with a circumstance such as this you need a knowledgeable attorney like Stephen R. Piper to fight for your new rights in court. Contact us for an initial consultation today.
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