New Jersey: The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee have approved legislation making eligibility and procedural changes for the expungement of criminal records. The bill named S-2663 would revise existing law by reducing from ten years to five years for the expungement of criminal records. However eligibility relies on the individual not being convicted of any subsequent or prior crime. Also no disorderly persons offenses on no more than 2 occasions.

Those that have complied with court ordered fines and/or were unable to fulfill due to mitigating circumstances. Further if there has been no convictions in a minimum of 5 years this would also qualify in respect of criminal records being expunged. The Superior Court, in addition, would order expungement of conviction and arrest records, for individuals who successfully completed court programs (drugs) and had neither been convicted of an offense or crime for the duration.

It was argued that those that had served their time and were ready to contribute to society should have the opportunity to support their families as well as themselves. The expungement of criminal records needs revising and updating and would ease the employment process for those with minor offenses. Individuals can be prisoners of their own criminal records. This can often lead them back in to a life of crime due to the restrictions and history. Why not provide citizens with the opportunity for a second chance.

The legislation also looks to reduce waiting periods for expungment of disorderly persons offenses and/or petty convictions. These being reduced from 5 to 3 years assuming the individual hasn’t been convicted of the same offences prior coupled with the completion of probation and their fines being paid. Expungement of criminal records would be automatic should charges have been dismissed without conviction.

In instances such as kidnapping, murder, terrorism and rape these crimes can not be expunged. Criminal records could be restored should another crime be committed within a drug court program. This foregoes any chance of expungement in the future.

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