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  • NJ A5038
  • Revises procedures for expunging criminal and other records and information, including shortening of certain waiting periods for expungement eligibility and increasing number of convictions which may be expunged.
Introduced
(6/19/2017)
In Committee
(6/26/2017)
Crossed OverPassedSignedDead/Failed/Vetoed
2016-2017 Regular Session
This bill would revise procedures for expunging criminal and other records and information, including the shortening of certain waiting periods for expungement eligibility and increasing the number of convictions which may be expunged. Under the bill, a person who has been convicted of a crime, or a combination of one crime and less than four disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offenses which were not closely related in circumstances or in time would be eligible to seek expungement relief. Alternatively, the person could seek expungement relief if convicted of more than one crime or a combination of crimes and disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offenses which were closely related in circumstances or in time. Under the current law, a person is generally limited to expunging one criminal conviction and up to two additional convictions for disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offenses, and there is no ability to expunge a potentially higher number of convictions based on crimes or offenses that were closely related in circumstances or in time. The bill would also decrease the standard time period, from 10 years to six years, before which a person with criminal convictions, or convictions for both crimes and offenses, could submit an expungement application to the Superior Court. There is a shorter waiting period of five years, unchanged by the bill, under which a person may seek the expungement of such convictions, if the person can show that it is in the public interest to permit the more expedited expungement. While the above time periods are normally measured from the date of the most recent conviction, payment of fine, completion of probation or parole, or release from incarceration, whichever date is later in time, the bill would permit a person to proceed with either a standard or expedited, "public interest"-based expungement application if the applicable time period has not expired with respect to the satisfaction of a fine, but the time period for all other conditions is satisfied and appropriate arrangements are in place for the person to satisfy any outstanding obligation to pay restitution to a victim. The current law only permits the consideration of a standard expungement application by a person under such circumstances; there is no such consideration permitted on an expedited application, meaning the fine must be satisfied in full for a minimum of five years before a person may proceed with an expedited application. With respect to criminal convictions for the sale, distribution, or possession with intent to sell marijuana or hashish, the bill amends the expungement law to establish general expungement eligibility as described above for a low-level offender consistent with how such an offender's crime is graded under the State's Criminal Code. This consistency would also apply to a young low-level offender (21 years of age or less at the time of the offense) who is granted special eligibility to make an expungement application after one year from the date of the conviction, termination of probation or parole, or discharge from custody, whichever date is later in time. Eligibility would be extended to all such convicted offenders when the crime is graded as a crime of the fourth degree, based on the amount of the drug being: - less than one ounce of marijuana (the current law provides eligibility for a smaller amount, 25 grams (0.89 ounce) or less); or - less than five grams (less than 0.17 ounce) of hashish (the current law provides eligibility for a slightly higher amount of five grams (0.17 ounce) or less). The new amounts set forth in the bill are derived from the amounts used to grade the crime as a crime of the fourth degree under the State's Criminal Code. See N.J.S.2C:35-5, subsection b., paragraph (12). As such, this would create a legal consistency between expungement law eligibility and grading under the Criminal Code, such that any fourth degree crime involving the sale, distribution, or possession with intent to sell marijuana or hashish would be generally eligible for expungement, and in the case of a young offender, the special eligibility for expungement after a one-year time period would consistently apply. This is not currently the case, because the amounts set forth in the expungement law are different than the amounts used to grade the crime. The current difference in the amounts used for expungement eligibility and the grading of the crime causes fourth degree crimes involving marijuana weighing more than 25 grams (more than 0.89 ounce) to only be eligible for expungement if the person can prove it is in the public interest to permit the expungement (a burden not faced when the amount involved is less), and young offenders are not afforded special eligibility for expungement after a one-year period. Additionally, the current inconsistency permits more serious third degree crimes involving hashish (if the amount involved is five grams exactly) to be generally eligible without the heightened burden on the person to show that expungement is in the public interest, and third-degree young offenders may seek the relief of expungement after a one-year period. The bill's proposed consistency between the expungement law and criminal grading would result in all fourth degree crimes and fourth degree young offenders being treated the same under the expungement law, and all third degree crimes and third degree young offenders being treated not just the same but subject to the more burdensome requirements concerning public interest proofs in order to obtain the relief of expungement. If a person who qualifies for the expungement of one or more criminal convictions has an outstanding balance of restitution, a fine, or other court-ordered financial assessment ordered by the court as part of a criminal sentence, the court would provide for the continued collection of any outstanding restitution and could order the continued collection of court-ordered financial obligations through the comprehensive enforcement program established pursuant to P.L.1995, c.9 (C.2B:19-1 et al.). Once the person's records and information was expunged, information regarding the nature of such financial assessments or their derivation from expunged criminal convictions would not be disclosed to the public. Any record of a civil judgment for the unpaid portion of court-ordered financial obligations that may be docketed after the court has granted an expungement of an underlying criminal conviction would be entered in the name of the Treasurer, State of New Jersey. The State Treasurer would thereafter administer such judgments in cooperation with the comprehensive enforcement program without disclosure of any information related to the underlying criminal nature of the assessments. The bill also updates the expungement law with respect to a person who has only been convicted of one or more disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offenses, mostly in a similar manner to the updates concerning a person who has been convicted of one or more crimes, or a combination of convictions for crimes and disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offenses. A person would be eligible for expungement relief if the person has been convicted on 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. Alternatively, the person could seek expungement relief if convicted of multiple disorderly persons offenses or multiple petty disorderly persons offenses, or a combination of multiple disorderly persons and petty disorderly persons offenses, all of which were closely related in circumstances or in time. Under the current law, a person is limited to expunging no more than three convictions for disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offenses, and there is no option to expunge a potentially higher number of such convictions based on offenses that were closely related in circumstances or in time. The current standard waiting period of five years before seeking to expunge convictions for disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offenses would remain, as would the waiting period of three years before seeking an expedited, "public interest"-based expungement. However, the expedited expungement application could be made if the three-year time period has not expired with respect to the satisfaction of a fine, but the time period for all other conditions of the conviction is satisfied and appropriate arrangements are in place for the person to satisfy any outstanding obligation to pay restitution to a victim. As with expungement applications that include criminal convictions, the current law only permits the consideration of a standard expungement application by a person who has not previously satisfied a fine; there is no such consideration permitted on an expedited application, meaning the fine must be satisfied in full for a minimum of three years before a person may proceed with an expedited application. Finally, the bill would remove a bar on expungement eligibility for any person with one or more convictions for crimes, disorderly persons offenses, or petty disorderly persons offenses, who, prior or subsequent to the conviction or convictions for which expungement is sought had criminal charges dismissed following the completion of a supervisory treatment or other diversion program. The dismissal of criminal charges in such manner would no longer be an automatic bar to the person seeking and obtaining the relief of expungement. However, even if the person is successful in expunging any convictions, the expunged records would remain available for subsequent review for purposes of determining whether to grant or deny the person another entry into a supervisory treatment or diversion program for new charges. See N.J.S.2C:52-20 and 2C:52-27, subsection b.
2nd Reading in the Assembly
Assembly Floor Amendment Passed (Muoio)  (on 6/29/2017)
 
 

Date Chamber Action Description
6/29/2017 A Assembly Floor Amendment Passed (Muoio)
6/26/2017 A Reported out of Assembly Comm. with Amendments, 2nd Reading
6/26/2017 Assembly Budget Hearing (19:00 6/26/2017 A-4432 (1R), A-4784 (1R) and A-5038 are pending referral. * Revi)
6/26/2017 Assembly Budget Hearing (19:00 6/26/2017 A-4432 (1R), A-4784 (1R) and A-5038 are pending referral.)
6/19/2017 A Reported and Referred to Assembly Budget Committee
6/19/2017 A Introduced, Referred to Assembly Appropriations Committee
6/19/2017 Assembly Appropriations Hearing (19:00 6/19/2017 Revised 6/16/17 - A2167 and A4586 have been added. In addition t)
Date Motion Yea Nay Other
Detail 6/26/2017 Assembly Budget Committee: Reported with Amendments 13 0 0
Detail 6/19/2017 Assembly Appropriations Committee: Reported Favorably 11 0 0