Kenneth Vercammen is a Middlesex County trial attorney who has published 130 articles in national and New Jersey publications on Criminal Law and litigation topics. He was awarded the NJ State State Bar Municipal Court Practitioner of the Year. He lectures and handles criminal cases, Municipal Court, DWI, traffic and other litigation matters. He is Co Chair of the ABA Criminal Law Committee, GP and was a speaker at the ABA Annual Meeting. To schedule a confidential consultation, call us or New clients email us evenings and weekends go to www.njlaws.com/ContactKenV.htm

Kenneth Vercammen & Associates, P.C,

2053 Woodbridge Avenue,

Edison, NJ 08817,

(732) 572-0500,

www.njlaws.com

Saturday, January 23, 2016

New Expungement Law permits petitions for Expungement of arrests in shorter time periods.

   New Expungement Law permits petitions for Expungement of arrests in shorter time periods.
This is an excellent law to help non-violent offenders.     
This new law establishes new expungement procedures for records and information pertaining to crimes and offenses, including procedures for persons who are, or previously have been, successfully discharged from the State’s special probation drug court program.  It also provides shorter waiting periods before certain records and information become expungeable.
You can now get expungements for both the crime and the disorderly persons convictions.
The new law takes effect until April 18, 2016.
The time period for expunging a Municipal Court criminal charge may be reduced to 3 years if you can show exception circumstances. Otherwise it stays 5 years.
      Regarding a person with a criminal conviction, that person would be permitted to make an application with an expungement petition to the Superior Court in the county in which the criminal conviction was adjudged.  That application could include additional, separate petitions seeking to expunge no more than two other convictions for disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offenses.  The application could only be filed after the expiration of five years from the date of the person’s most recent conviction, payment of fine, satisfactory completion of probation or parole, or release from incarceration, for the crime or for any disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offense, whichever is later (the waiting period under current law for a criminal conviction expungement is ordinarily 10 years).  Alternatively, the court could grant an expungement on the application if less than five years has expired from the payment of any fine but the five-year waiting period is otherwise satisfied, and the court finds that the person substantially complied with any payment plan for that fine or could not do so due to compelling circumstances.
      Regarding a person with a conviction for a disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offense, but no criminal conviction, that person would be permitted to make an application with an expungement petition to the Superior Court concerning that offense following a procedure similar to that used for criminal convictions.  The application, like an application concerning a criminal conviction, could include additional, separate petitions seeking to expunge no more than two other convictions for disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offenses.  The application could only be filed after the expiration of three years from the date of the person’s most recent conviction, payment of fine, satisfactory completion of probation or parole, or release from incarceration for any disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offense, whichever is later (the waiting period on convictions for such offenses under current law is five years).  Alternatively, the court could grant an expungement on the application if less than three years has expired from the payment of any fine but the three-year waiting period is otherwise satisfied, and the court finds that the person substantially complied with any payment plan for that fine or could not do so due to compelling circumstances.
      Regarding a person with an arrest or charge that did not result in a conviction or finding of guilt, whether the proceedings were dismissed, or the person acquitted or discharged, upon a person presenting an application for expungement:
      (1) if the proceedings took place in Superior Court, the court, at the time of dismissal, acquittal, or discharge, would order the expungement of all records and information relating to the arrest or charge; or
      (2) if the proceedings took place in municipal court, the municipal court would provide the person with appropriate documentation to transmit to the Superior Court to request an expungement, and the Superior Court, upon receipt of the documentation with an expungement request would take action to order the expungement of all records and information relating to the arrest or charge.  A person seeking such an expungement of municipal court matters would not be charged an application fee for taking such action.
      An expungement related to a dismissal, acquittal, or discharge without a conviction or finding of guilt would not be available whenever the dismissal, acquittal, or discharge resulted from a plea bargaining agreement involving the conviction of other charges.  However, this bar on such expungements would no longer apply once the conviction connected to the plea bargain was itself expunged.
      If the person did not apply for an expungement related to a dismissal, acquittal, or discharge at the time such action occurred, the person could, at any time following the disposition of proceedings, present to the Superior Court in the county in which the disposition occurred an application with a duly verified petition, containing relevant details concerning the applicant and the arrest or charge for which the expungement is sought.  The person, pursuing this “after the fact” expungement application, would also not be charged an application fee.
      A copy of any Superior Court order of expungement related to a dismissal, acquittal, or discharge would be presented to the appropriate court and the prosecutor.  The prosecutor would then be responsible for promptly distributing copies of the expungement order to appropriate agencies with custody and control of the records specified in the order so that they may be properly expunged.
      Regarding a person who is, or was prior to the effective date of the law, successfully discharged from the State’s special probation drug court program, the law would permit the Superior Court that had sentenced the person to the program to expunge all records and information relating to prior arrests, detentions, convictions, and proceedings for any offense enumerated in the Criminal Code, Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes, existing at the time of discharge from the program.  However, the person would not be eligible for such an expungement action if the person’s records include a conviction for any offense barred from expungement pursuant to N.J.S.2C:52-2.          
      For a person who is successfully discharged on or after the effective date of the law, the person would only be eligible to have all prior matters expunged if the person was not convicted of any crime, disorderly persons offense, or petty disorderly persons offense during the term of special probation.  For a person who was successfully discharged prior to the effective date of the law, the person would only be eligible to have all matters expunged that existed at the time of discharge from the program if the person has not been convicted of any crime or offense since the person’s date of discharge.
      The Superior Court would grant the person successfully discharged from the special probation drug court program the relief of expungement, unless it finds that the need for the availability of the records and information outweighs the desirability of having the person freed from any disabilities associated with their availability.  The person would not be charged any fee for such an expungement action.
      Lastly, regarding the continued availability of any expunged records and information, the law updates the statutory list of parties within the criminal justice system that may still view such records and information.  Along with courts, county prosecutors, the Probation Division of the Superior Court, and the Attorney General, the Pretrial Services Program making pretrial release recommendations on certain persons undergoing the release determination process set forth in sections 1 through 11 of P.L.2014, c.31 (C.2A:162-15 et seq.) would also be able to examine expunged records and information.
      As amended and reported, this law is identical to Assembly Law Nos. 206, 471, 1663, 2879, 3060, and 3108 (ACS/2R), as also amended and reported by the committee. SENATE, No. 2663
More info on hiring an attorney for an expungement at http://www.njlaws.com/expungement.html

This Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Jerry Green, Grace L. Spencer, Reed Gusciora, Gordon Johnson, John F. McKeon, Thomas Giblin, Benjie Wimberly and Annette Quijano to reform New Jersey's expungement laws has been signed in January.
"Expungement offers an incentive against recidivism. It gives people who currently have little chance of finding legal employment the opportunity to leave past mistakes behind them, find a job and be productive," said Green (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union). "The fact of the matter is, the system is working against those individuals who have served their time and want to change and do better."
The new law (A-206-471-1663-2879-3060-3108) reduces the statutory waiting period for an expungement of a criminal conviction from 10 years to five years from the date of the person's last conviction, payment of fine, satisfactory completion of probation or parole or release from incarceration, whichever is later. In the case of a disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offense, the waiting period is reduced from five years to three years. Individuals with a criminal conviction or a conviction for a disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offense must apply for an expungement to the Superior Court in the county where the conviction was adjudged.
"A criminal record can affect a person's ability to secure housing, employment and even loans for school," said Spencer (D-Essex). "How is a person supposed to successfully reintegrate back into society when almost every road to self-dependence is blocked by a criminal record?"
"Individuals who have learned from their mistakes should not be defined by their criminal records for the rest of their lives," said Gusciora (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). "These folks are going back into our communities. It makes sense that we make it easier for them to become constructive citizens."
"Putting your life back together after being incarcerated can take time. It can take even longer with a criminal record looming over you," said Johnson (D-Bergen). "It is a greater benefit to society when these individuals are able to put their past behind them and lead better, more productive lives."
The new law also will allow expungement of conviction records for certain persons who have completed the state's special probation drug court program. The court may order the expungement of all records and information related to all prior criminal arrests, detention, convictions and proceedings for any offense enumerated in the Criminal Code, Title 2C of the New Jersey statutes. A person is ineligible for expungement if his or her records include a conviction for any offense that had been previously barred from expungement.
An individual who is successfully discharged on or after the law's effective date, April 18, 2016, will be eligible to have all prior matters expunged only if he or she was not convicted of any crime, disorderly persons offense or petty disorderly persons offense while on special probation. An individual who was successfully discharged prior to the law's effective date will be eligible to have all matters expunged that existed at the time of discharge only if he or she has not been convicted of any crime of offense since his or her discharge date.
"Participants in drug court have a far lower recidivism rate than offenders who are incarcerated in state prisons," said McKeon (D-Essex/Morris). "If we want these individuals to continue on the right path, then we have to give them the chance to do better instead of setting up roadblocks."
"There's no benefit to continually punishing people who have served their time and now want to redeem themselves," said Giblin (D-Essex/Passaic). "We have to create opportunities for individuals who want to be productive members of society, which is very hard to do with a criminal record."
"These individuals successfully completed a substance abuse program. They did not break any laws while in the program. They have demonstrated a desire to be and do better," said Wimberly (D-Bergen/Passaic). "Expunging their criminal records can help them continue on the path to recovery."
In the case of individuals with an arrest or charge that did not result in a conviction or finding of guilt - whether the proceedings were dismissed, or the person was acquitted or discharged - the following would apply:
  if the proceedings took place in Superior Court, the court, at the time of dismissal, acquittal or discharge, would order the expungement of all records and information relating to the arrest or charge; or
  if the proceedings took place in municipal court, the municipal court would provide the person, upon request, with appropriate documentation to transmit to the Superior Court to request an expungement, and the Superior Court, upon receipt of the documentation with an expungement request would take action to order the expungement of all records and information relating to the arrest or charge. A person seeking such an expungement would not be charged an application fee for taking such action.
"The lingering effects of a criminal record can make the difference between successful reintegration and reentry. These individuals went through the judicial process and were absolved," said Quijano (D-Union). "The sooner their records are expunged, the sooner they can get back to normal.” They can hire an attorney for expungement in a shorter waiting period.