Having a criminal record can be like walking around with a heavy weight strapped to your back. Prior convictions can impact your ability to gain employment or own a firearm, and issues like child custody or immigration. But it’s not a burden you have to carry forever, thanks to New Jersey’s clean slate law.
What is the clean slate law?
Passed in 2020, New Jersey Statute 2C:52-5.3 allows a person with multiple prior convictions to clear their criminal record. The number of convictions is irrelevant – the law places no limit on how many convictions an individual may have suffered. For those who apply for the clean slate and are approved, the effect is that none of the convictions will appear during things like employment criminal background checks.
Who is eligible?
Those who were convicted of most crimes in New Jersey will be eligible to have them removed via clean slate. However, New Jersey does specify a number of violent or sexual offenses that are excluded from the law. Additionally, at least 10 years must have passed since completion of the most recent conviction. Completion refers to things like finishing probation or paying court-ordered financial assessments such as fines or restitution.
Currently, anyone wishing to take advantage of the clean slate law must file an application to do so. In the long run, though, New Jersey intends to make this process automatic, requiring no action to be taken by the individual. Instead, the state system will recognize when a person’s criminal record reflects that the necessary conditions have been met and wipe the slate clean on its own.