Monday, December 21, 2015

Green's Expungement Bill A-206 Heads to Gov's Desk

FOR RELEASE                                                                   CONTACT
12/18/2015                                                                              Press office
                                                                                         (609) 847-3500 

Assembly Democratic Legislation to Reform NJ's Expungement Laws Heads to Gov's Desk

(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Jerry Green, Grace L. Spencer, Reed Gusciora, Gordon Johnson, John F. McKeon, Thomas Giblin, Benjie Wimberly, Charles Mainor and Annette Quijano to reform New Jersey's expungement laws received final legislative approval Thursday and now heads to the governor's desk.

The bill (A-206-471-1663-2879-3060-3108) would reduce 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 would be reduced from five years to three years. Individuals with a criminal conviction or a conviction for a disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offense would have to apply for an expungement to the Superior Court in the county where the conviction was adjudged.

"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."

"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 bill would also allow expungement of the records of a criminal conviction to certain persons who have completed a sentence to a term of special probation, commonly referred to as drug court. The court would be permitted to order the expungement of all records and information relating 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 would not be eligible for expungement if his or her records include a conviction for any offense barred from expungement under current law.

For individuals who are successfully discharged on or after the bill's effective date, the individual 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 while on special probation. For individuals who were successfully discharged prior to the bill's effective date, they would only be eligible to have all matters expunged that existed at the time of discharge from the program if the individual has not been convicted of any crime of offense since the person's 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 punish 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 expungment, 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.
"It is unfair to further penalize an individual who has been cleared of a crime," said Mainor (D-Hudson). "A criminal record can create barriers that make it difficult to prosper. If a person is acquitted or their charges are dropped, then their criminal record should be immediately expunged."

"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."

The bill was approved 59-8-1 by the Assembly, and 25-12 by the Senate in September.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Green & Stender's Bill Gains OKs to Prevent Public Adjusters in NJ from Overcharging Homeowners

FOR RELEASE:             

December 10, 2015

Majority Press Office

Assembly Panel OKs Green & Stender Bill to Prevent Public Adjusters in N.J. from Overcharging Homeowners Following Claims of Price Gouging During Sandy

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore Jerry Green and Assemblywoman Linda Stender to cap how much a public adjuster can charge a homeowner for insurance claim assistance for certain emergencies was advanced Thursday by an Assembly panel.
Green decided to pursue the bill after hearing complaints during a meeting in Union County last year from homeowners affected by Sandy who were overcharged by public adjusters hired to appraise their insurance claims. Public adjusters are experts on property loss adjustment who are retained exclusively by policyholders to assist in preparing, filing and adjusting insurance claims.

“Public adjusters are supposed to look out for the best interests of the homeowner, but according to these residents, some of these adjusters were charging up to 40 to 50 percent of what the insurance company was to pay eventually. This is a crime. A loan shark doesn’t even charge that much,” said Green (D-Union/Middlesex/Somerset). “There is nothing currently in the books to prevent these individuals from taking advantage of these homeowners. This bill changes that.”
“The damage caused by a natural disaster can be devastating. Navigating the system as you try to rebuild can be equally consuming. The last thing a homeowner affected by Sandy or any other natural disaster needs is a public adjuster who is more interested in making money than helping,” said Stender (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union). “This bill will limit the amount that a public adjuster can charge a homeowner when settling insurance claims following a catastrophic loss occurrence.”

The bill (A-476) would prohibit an individual, firm, association or corporation licensed under the “Public Adjusters’ Licensing Act” from charging, agreeing to or accepting any compensation in excess of 10 percent of the amount paid out by the insurer for claims based on events that are the result of a catastrophic loss occurrence. As defined in the bill, “catastrophic loss occurrence” means an occurrence designated by the President of the United States or the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or the Governor or the State Office of Emergency Management in the Division of State Police in the Department of Law and Public Safety, or any other authorized federal, state or local agency, as an emergency or a disaster and includes, but is not limited to, a flood, hurricane, storm or earthquake.   The compensation level established by the bill would apply to such claims made for a period of one year from the occasion of the declaration of the catastrophic loss occurrence.

The bill was released by the Assembly Financial Institution and Insurance Committee.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015


News from
Speaker Pro Tempore Green
For Release:
Speaker Pro Tempore Jerry Green
Housing & Community Development Committee Chair
p: 908-561-5757
Dec. 8, 2015 

Assembly OKs Green Bill to Prohibit Pyramid Schemes
Legislation Would Establish Penalty of Up to Five Years’ Imprisonment

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Jerry Green to outlaw pyramid schemes recently cleared the Assembly. It will now go to the Senate for further review.        
The bill (A-449) makes it a crime of the third degree, punishable by three to five years’ imprisonment, for a person to promote or sell a pyramid scheme. This bill establishes criminal penalties for promoting and participating in “pyramid promotional schemes.” 
Green notes in the bill that a pyramid promotional scheme requires participants to recruit other individuals into the scheme in order for the original participants to receive any compensation.  The scheme is designed to compensate only those participants who initially join the pyramid, while later participants lose money.
           “Pyramid schemes make victims out of vulnerable people who often are just looking for a way to make ends meet,” said Green (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union). “Individuals who understand that an enterprise is a pyramid scheme and still choose to participate ought to face serious consequences.”
The bill makes it a crime of the third degree to knowingly promote or sell a pyramid promotional scheme.  Under the bill, a "pyramid promotional scheme" is defined as any plan or operation in which a participant gives consideration for the right to receive compensation that is derived primarily from the recruitment of other persons as participants in the plan or operation, rather than from the sales of goods, services, or intangible property by the participant or by participants to others. 
"Consideration" is defined as the payment of cash or the purchase of goods, services, and intangible property, and does not include the purchase of goods or services furnished at cost to be used in making sales and not for resale.
“New Jersey is the only state in the country without a statute that specifically outlaws pyramid schemes,” Green added. “Knowingly deceiving people and convincing them to recruit others to sell a nonexistent product isn’t a business model – it’s fraud. By specifically prohibiting pyramid schemes, this bill will make the severity of this matter clear in New Jersey.”
The bill also provides that knowing participation in a pyramid promotional scheme is a crime of the fourth degree, unless the amount the person contributed to the scheme was $100 or less, in which case it is a disorderly persons offense. A disorderly persons offense carries a sentence of up to 6 months in a county jail.
The bill specifically exempts plans or operations in which consideration is given by participants in return for the right to receive compensation based on their sales or personal use of goods, services, or intangible property. The bill also exempts plans and operations that implement an appropriate inventory repurchase program and that do not promote inventory loading.
            The measure was approved 64-0 on Monday, December 3 by the full Assembly.  The Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee released the bill on November 9.