A criminal conviction can have a lasting negative effect, even after the person serves his or her debt to society. Thankfully, depending upon the severity of the offense, an expungement may be possible.
In 2018, a new expungement law went into place that intends to aid more people in receiving the expungements they seek.
Though lawmakers crafted this new law in December of 2017, it went into effect in October of 2018. In short, this new law makes it easier for qualified offenders who apply for an expungement to receive one and to receive it quicker than before. A few of the main changes the new law contains include the following:
- Reduction in waiting period before expungement
- Increase in the number of offenses that may be expunged
- Ease in combining several offenses from one criminal episode
- Remove the barrier of restitution
There are a few other aspects that may affect some applicants, such as the completion of a drug court program. There are separate rules and procedures for expungement of arrests and convictions of victims of human trafficking and identity theft.
Anyone who is considering applying for expungement should first determine eligibility, which may take into account a number of factors. For example, someone who has one conviction for an indictable offense with no other convictions may be eligible. Someone who has received convictions for disorderly persons offenses and indictable offenses that were closely related and took place in a short amount of time may also be eligible if he or she does not have any other convictions or offenses on record.
There are several benefits to an expungement in general. It allows those who made mistakes in their past to have a clean slate. Without the criminal record on file for an employer or landlord to review, they may be more likely to acquire a job and adequate housing. The new law can allow people to start their new lives faster, and allow those with several offenses to receive a clean slate.
The average process for approval can take as little as three months or as long as eight months.