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Update on Expungement Laws in New Jersey

A record of arrest or conviction can be an obstacle to school, jobs, or housing. In New Jersey, an expungement can provide an opportunity for an individual charged with a juvenile or adult offense to get a fresh start. An expungement allows certain criminal records in the juvenile justice or adult system(s) to be permanently erased. At the end of December 2017, now-former Gov. Chris Christie signed legislation that will provide additional opportunities for former juvenile and adult offenders to have somewhat of a second chance.

One of the bills approved on December 20, 2017, which took effect immediately, was an amendment to New Jersey’s “Ban the Box” law. This amendment prohibits employers from asking candidates for employment about their criminal records, including expunged records. Therefore, an employer cannot make any oral, written or online inquiry regarding an applicant’s criminal record, including expunged records, during the initial employment application process.

Another bill, which will take effect early in 2018, reduces the waiting period for the expungement of a juvenile record from five years to three.  In other words, someone with a juvenile delinquency record would have to wait only three years from the time they were released from custody or supervision to apply for expungement of their record. The most serious criminal charges, such as homicide, sexual assault, robbery, and endangering the welfare of a child, cannot be expunged. However, the opportunity for a clean slate in other instances may be available.

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