While it is extremely rare that NJ legislators do anything that can be construed as favoring criminal defendants, that may just have happened last week when bill number A-1771 was signed into law. The legislation amends longstanding regulations regarding what can be expunged and the waiting period that must expire before a petition to expunge can be filed. New Jersey Expungement Attorneys and their clients will find these amendments extremely pleasing.
Under the new law, individuals who have been convicted of possession with intent to distribute controlled dangerous substances (“CDS”) are now eligible for expungement. Previously, the only distribution charges that could be expunged were those involving “young offenders” who sold marijuana. The expungement law now expands eligibility to include all Third Degree and Fourth Degree drug distribution convictions, even those involving heroin, cocaine, crack and prescription drugs.
Another significant change contained in the law involves the reduction of the waiting period for expungement of indictable (a.k.a. felony) offenses from ten (10) years to five (5) years.
The new provisions of this law will undoubtedly help hundreds, if not thousands of individuals, to expunge criminal records which previously were permanent. This means that all those people who were convicted of intent to distribute marijuana, cocaine, or some other form of CDS decades ago, can finally get the monkey off their back. I can tell you first hand that this is going to make the lives of many individuals much better. I cannot explain just how many calls we field every year from individuals convicted years ago for distribution and who have suffered for their mistake every time they have attempted to get a better job. This issue can finally be put behind them.