Guv signs Amendments to Expungement Statute

The following is an analysis of the amendments to NJSA 2C:52-2 et. seq.

Amendments to Expungement Statute effective April 18, 2016

NJSA 2C:52-2(a) – Simultaneous Expungement of criminal and disorderly persons person convictions. Ten years after completion of a criminal sentence, a petitioner who has one criminal conviction and no more than 2 disorderly persons level convictions, may submit a petition seeking to expunge the criminal charge, the disorderly persons offenses or both.

NJSA 2C:52-2(a)(1) – If the 10-year period has expired but has been extended due to a delay in the payment of the fines in full, the petitioner may file for an expungement of criminal &/or disorderly persons offenses based upon a finding by the court that the fines could not be paid on a timely basis due to compelling circumstances. (Compelling circumstances are defined under NJSA 2C:52-2(a)(2)).

NJSA 2C:52-2(a)(2) – At least 5-years has passed since the completion of the sentence, the petitioner has not been convicted of any subsequent offenses and the court finds expungement is in the public interest given his character and conduct.

NJSA 2C:52-3(a) – A petitioner seeking expungement of disorderly persons offenses must utilize this section unless he has been also convicted of a crime, in which case his petition must be filed under NJSA 2C:52-2(a).

NJSA 2C:52-3(b) – A person who has been convicted of no more than 3 disorderly persons offenses (d/p) and no crimes may file a petition for expungement 5-years after completion of the most recent d/p sentence seeking to expunge his convictions with a limit of three. A conviction for a crime or more than 3 d/p convictions serves as a disqualification under this section.

NJSA 2C:52-3(b)(1) – If the 5-year period has expired but has been extended due to a delay in the payment of the fines in full, the petitioner may file for an expungement of disorderly persons offenses based upon a finding by the court that the fines could not be paid on a timely basis due to compelling circumstances. (Compelling circumstances are defined under NJSA 2C:52-2(b)(2)).

NJSA 2C:52-3(b)(2) – At least 3-years has passed since the completion of the sentence, the petitioner has not been convicted of any subsequent offenses and the court finds expungement is in the public interest given his character and conduct.

NJSA 2C:52-6(a) – Arrest not resulting in conviction – The Superior Court is now required immediately to expunge the records of a criminal charge, d/p or ordinance violation which ends in a dismissal or discharge without a finding of guilt.

NJSA 2C:52-6(a)(1) – Arrest not resulting in conviction – If proceedings took place in municipal court, the municipal court shall provide the person, upon request, with appropriate documentation to transmit to the Superior Court to request expungement pursuant to procedures developed by the Administrative Office of the Courts. Upon receipt of the documentation, the Superior Court shall enter an ex parte order expunging all records and information relating to the person’s arrest or charge.

NJSA 2C:52-6(a)(2) – There is no fee for this application and the procedural requirements set forth in NJSA 2C:52-7 thru 14 do not apply.

NJSA 2C:52-6(a)(3) – This procedure does not apply to charges that are dismissed thru a plea agreement.

NJSA 2C:52-6(a)(4) – The county prosecutor is responsible for serving all the copies of the expungement order.

NJSA 2C:52-6(a)(5) – An expungement under this section does not serve as a bar to future expungements.

NJSA 2C:52-6(b) –Cases that resulted in dismissal prior to the amendment to this statute may seek an expungement without fee by filing a verified petition under NJSA 2C:52-7.

NJSA 2C:52-6(c) – There is a 6-month waiting period in those instances where the dismissal was obtained by way of a diversion from the criminal justice system.

NJSA 2C:52-32 – Public Policy – This chapter shall be construed with the primary objective of providing relief to the Reformed offender who has led a life of rectitude and disassociated himself with unlawful activity, but not to create a system whereby persistent violators of the law or those who associate themselves with continuing criminal activity have a regular means of expunging their police and criminal records.

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