2017 Changes to the Expungement Statute

January 4, 2018

On December 20, 2017 Governor Christie signed into effect the following bills to further help people with Criminal Convictions. These two new bills will have a tremendous impact on the N.J.S.A. 2C:52 expungement statue.

Senate Bill 3307: Shortens Expungement Waiting time for Adult Convictions

Under the current expungement statue, N.J.S.A. 2C:52-2, a petitioner may apply for an expungement 10 year from the date of his conviction, payment of fine, satisfactory completion of probation or parole, or release from incarceration, whichever is later.

Change: In the bill Governor Christie signed a petitioner may apply for an expungement 6 year from the date of his conviction, payment of fine, satisfactory completion of probation or parole, or release from incarceration, whichever is later.

Public Interest Expungements:

Under this new bill a Petitioner is still allowed to apply for an “public interest” expungement after 5 years have elapsed.  However, there is an effect on marijuana convictions that bears noting.  

Under the current expungement statue:

In the case of conviction for the sale or distribution of a controlled dangerous substance or possession thereof with intent to sell, expungement shall be denied except where the crimes involve:

(1) Marijuana, where the total quantity sold, distributed or possessed with intent to sell is less than 25 grams;  

(2) Hashish, where the total quantity sold, distributed or possessed with intent to sell is five (5) grams.

This means that under the old law a person could apply for an ordinary expungement (and not have to meet the public interest standard) if the quantity they sold or possessed with intent to distribute was less than 25 grams.

Change:

In the case of conviction for the sale or distribution of a controlled dangerous substance or possession thereof with intent to sell, expungement shall be denied except where the crimes involve:

(1) Marijuana, where the total quantity sold, distributed or possessed with intent to sell is now less than one ounce;  

(2) Hashish, where the total quantity sold, distributed or possessed with intent to sell is now less than five (5) grams.

This raises the quantity a person may have sold or possessed with intent to less than one ounce (28 grams).  This tracks the actual marijuana distribution statute (2C:35-5(a)(11) which makes it a crime of the fourth degree to distribute less than an ounce of marijuana and third degree crime to distribute more than an ounce.

2C:52-3. Disorderly persons offenses and petty disorderly persons offenses

Under the current N.J.S.A. 2C:52-3, Any person convicted of a disorderly person’s offense or petty disorderly persons offense under the laws of this State who has not been convicted of any prior or subsequent crime or who has not been convicted of more than two other disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offenses, may, after the expiration of a period of 5 years from the date of his conviction, payment of fine, satisfactory completion of probation or release from incarceration, whichever is later apply for expungement.

This basically translates to that under the former law a person who had never been convicted of a crime could have a total of three (3) disorderly persons offenses expunged.

Change:  The new law provides that a person is eligible to apply for expungement if:

The person has been convicted under the laws of this State, on the same or separate occasions of no more than four disorderly persons offenses, no more than four petty disorderly persons offenses, or a combination of no more than four disorderly persons and petty disorderly persons offenses after the expiration of a period of five years from the date of his most recent conviction, payment of fine, satisfactory completion of probation or release from incarceration.

This act shall take effect on the first day of the third month next following enactment.

Under the new law, a person can now have a total of four (4) disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons  offenses expunged.  However, the law seems to limit the argument that multiple convictions entered at the same time should be treated as one offense.

This act shall take effect on the first day of the third month next following enactment.

Senate Bill 3308: Shortens Expungement Waiting time for Juvenile Convictions:

This bill reduces the waiting period for expungement of an entire juvenile criminal record from five to three years. The new N.J.S.A. 2C:52-4.1statue will read:

  1.  a.  Any person adjudged a juvenile delinquent may have such adjudication expunged as follows:

     (1)   Pursuant to N.J.S.2C:52-2, if the act committed by the juvenile would have constituted a crime if committed by an adult; 

     (2)   Pursuant to N.J.S.2C:52-3, if the act committed by the juvenile would have constituted a disorderly or petty disorderly persons offense if committed by an adult; or

     (3)   Pursuant to N.J.S.2C:52-4, if the act committed by the juvenile would have constituted an ordinance violation if committed by an adult. 

     For purposes of expungement, any act which resulted in a juvenile being adjudged a delinquent shall be classified as if that act had been committed by an adult.

  1. Additionally, any person who has been adjudged a juvenile delinquent may have his entire record of delinquency adjudications expunged if: 

     (1)   Three years have elapsed since the final discharge of the person from legal custody or supervision or three years have elapsed after the entry of any other court order not involving custody or supervision, except that periods of post-incarceration supervision pursuant to section 25 of P.L.1982, c.77 (C.2A:4A-44), shall not be considered in calculating the three-year period for purposes of this paragraph;

     (2)   He has not been convicted of a crime, or a disorderly or petty disorderly persons offense, or adjudged a delinquent, or in need of supervision, during the three years prior to the filing of the petition, and no proceeding or complaint is pending seeking such a conviction or adjudication, except that periods of post-incarceration supervision pursuant to section 25 of P.L.1982, c.77 (C.2A:4A-44), shall not be considered in calculating the  three-year period for purposes of this paragraph; 

     (3)   He was never adjudged a juvenile delinquent on the basis of an act which if committed by an adult would constitute a crime not subject to expungement under N.J.S.2C:52-2;

     (4)   He has never had an adult conviction expunged; and

     (5)   He has never had adult criminal charges dismissed following completion of a supervisory treatment or other diversion program. 

  1. Any person who has been charged with an act of delinquency and against whom proceedings were dismissed may have the filing of those charges expunged pursuant to the provisions of N.J.S.2C:52-6. 

This act shall take effect on the first day of the fourth month next following enactment.

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