Changes to Marijuana-Related Expungements (Part 11)

by | Feb 24, 2020 | Blog, Criminal Law, Drug Crime, Marijuana, Monmouth County, New Jersey, Ocean County

The amendments to N.J.S.A. 2C:52-3 continue:

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 any court-ordered financial assessment, satisfactory completion of probation or parole, or release from incarceration, whichever is later.  The term “court-ordered financial assessment” as used herein and throughout this section means and includes any fine, fee, penalty, restitution, and other form of financial assessment imposed by the court as part of the sentence for the conviction or convictions that are the subject of the application, 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 a court in the county in which the most recent conviction for a disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offense was adjudged, which includes a duly verified petition as provided in N.J.S.2C:52-7, praying that the conviction, or convictions if applicable, and all records and information pertaining thereto be expunged.  The petition 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, if, at the time of application, a court-ordered financial assessment subject to collection under the comprehensive enforcement program established pursuant to P.L.1995, c.9 (C.2B:19-1 et al.) is not yet satisfied due to reasons other than willful noncompliance, but the time requirement of five years is otherwise satisfied, the person may submit the expungement application and the court may grant an expungement; provided, however, that the court shall enter a civil judgment for the unpaid portion of the court-ordered financial assessment in the name of the Treasurer, State of New Jersey and transfer collections and disbursement responsibility to the State Treasurer for the outstanding amount in accordance with section 8 of P.L.2017, c.244 (C.2C:52-23.1).  The Treasurer may specify, and the Administrative Office of the Courts shall collaborate with, the technical and informational standards required to effectuate the transfer of the collection and disbursement responsibilities. Notwithstanding any provision in this law or any other law to the contrary, the court shall have sole discretion to amend the judgment.

Additionally, an application may be filed and presented, and the court may grant an expungement pursuant to this section, although less than five years have expired in accordance with the time requirements when the court finds:

  1. the court-ordered financial assessment 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 assessment; or
  2. at least three but less than five years have expired from the date of the most recent conviction, payment of any court-ordered financial assessment, 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 compelling circumstances exist to grant the   The prosecutor may object pursuant to section

111 of P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), N.J.S.2C:52-11, N.J.S.2C:52-14, or N.J.S.2C:52-24.  In determining whether compelling circumstances exist for the purposes of paragraph (1) of this subsection, a court may consider the amount of  any court-ordered financial assessment 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.2017, c.244, s.2)

The final two changes to 2C:52-3 concern changes that were made to several of the sub-sections. The first involves the language used to describe outstanding balances owed to the sentencing court. The second involves a change from the “public interest” standard for expedited disorderly persons offenses expungements to the new “compelling circumstances” standard. This second change should broaden expedited expungement eligibility as petitioners are no longer required to show that the petition is in the “public interest”, but only that there are compelling personal circumstances.