The amended 2C:52-3 continues:
[or] the person has been convicted of multiple disorderly persons offenses or multiple petty disorderly persons offenses under the laws of this State, or a combination of multiple disorderly persons and petty disorderly persons offenses under the laws of this State, which offenses or combination of offenses were interdependent or closely related in circumstances and were committed as part of a sequence of events that took place within a comparatively short period of time, regardless of the date of conviction or sentencing for each individual offense, and the person does not otherwise have any prior or subsequent conviction for another offense in addition to those convictions included in the expungement application, whether within this State or any other jurisdiction.
The person, if eligible, may present the expungement application 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, whichever is later. The term “fine” as used herein and throughout this section means and includes any fine, restitution, and other court-ordered financial assessment imposed by the court as part of the sentence for the conviction, for which payment of restitution takes precedence in accordance with chapter 46 of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes. The person shall submit the expungement application to the Superior Court in the county in which the most recent conviction for a disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offense was adjudged, which contains a separate, duly verified petition as provided in N.J.S.2C:52-7 for each conviction sought to be expunged, praying that the conviction, or convictions if applicable, and all records and information pertaining thereto be expunged. The petition for each conviction appended to an application shall comply with the requirements of N.J.S.2C:52-1 et seq.
Notwithstanding the provisions of the five-year time requirement, an application may be filed and presented, and the court may grant an expungement pursuant to this section, when the court finds:
(1) the fine is satisfied but less than five years have expired from the date of satisfaction and the five-year time requirement is otherwise satisfied, and the court finds that the person substantially complied with any payment plan ordered pursuant to N.J.S.2C:46-1 et seq., or could not do so due to compelling circumstances affecting his ability to satisfy the fine; or
(2) at least three but less than five years have expired from the date of his the most recent conviction, , payment of fine, satisfactory completion of probation or parole, or release from incarceration, whichever is later; and the person has not been otherwise convicted of a crime, disorderly persons offense, or petty disorderly persons offense since the time of the most recent conviction; and the court finds in its discretion that expungement is in the public interest, giving due consideration to the nature of the offense or offenses, and the applicant’s character and conduct since the conviction or convictions.
In determining whether compelling circumstances exist for the purposes of paragraph (1) of this subsection, a court may consider the amount of the fine or fines imposed, the person’s age at the time of the offense or offenses, the person’s financial condition and other relevant circumstances regarding the person’s ability to pay.(cf: P.L.2015, c.261, s.3)
The principal change in this sub-section is that the mere inability to pay the fines underlying the offense(s) for which expungement is sought should not be a bar to expungement. Willful non-payment will still be a bar to expungement.