Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn
On December 20, 2017, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed bipartisan legislation – Senate Bills 3306, 3307, and 3308 – that will change and modernize the state’s expungement system and help minor criminal offenders reclaim their lives, according to a press release from the Office of the Governor.
“Expungement has to be an option that’s available to those who have earned it and who deserve it, and this legislation will allow people to get that,” Governor Christie commented after signing the bills. The expungement reform legislation – which will take effect on October 1, 2018 – includes:
SB 3306 strengthens the New Jersey’s “Ban the Box” law – the “Opportunity to Compete Act” – by further preventing employers from making oral, written, or online inquiries about criminal records of applicants or using online applications requires disclosure of criminal records, including expungement.
SB 3307 revises procedures for the expungement of criminal and other records and information, including shortening certain waiting periods for expungement eligibility and increasing the number of convictions that may be expunged. These procedures include:
- Allowing a petitioner to expunge up to four instead of three, offenses or multiple offenses that occurred within a short timeframe, if the petitioner has not been convicted of any prior or subsequent offense;
- Reducing the expungement eligibility waiting period from 10 years to six years, following the latest of any conviction, payment of fine, and completion of probation, parole, or prison sentence;
- Further reducing the expungement eligibility waiting period if satisfaction of a fine or restitution is the petitioner’s only remaining barrier and the court finds that the expungement is in the public’s interest; and
- Aligning expungement and sentencing statutes, allowing expungement for possession of marijuana with the intent to sell up to one ounce, which is the threshold for a fourth-degree crime.
SB 3308 allows young adults to expunge their juvenile records two years sooner than current law permits, decreasing the waiting period from five to three years to expunge an entire juvenile record, and maintaining all other requirements and provisions.
In June 2017, ESR News reported that Governor Christie had announced a bipartisan agreement on legislation prohibiting employment discrimination based on expunged criminal records, increasing the number of convictions for expungement, and reducing the time to expunge a record.
“Society also has a vested interest in helping ex-offenders with past criminal records obtain and maintain employment,” explains Attorney Lester Rosen, founder and CEO of Employment Screening Resources® (ESR), a global background check firm headquartered in the San Francisco, California area.
“It is difficult for ex-offenders to become law-abiding, tax-paying citizens without a job,” says Rosen, author of ‘The Safe Hiring Manual.’ “Unless society wants to continue to spend its tax dollars on building more and more jails and prisons, ex-offenders need a second chance to rejoin the workforce.”
ESR has released a complimentary whitepaper written by Rosen entitled “Ten Critical Steps for Ex-Offenders to Get Back into the Workforce” to help job applicants with criminal records who face the difficult – but not impossible – task of finding gainful employment and re-entering the labor market.
NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.
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