On November 12, 2019, Judge Jill O-Malley of the Monmouth County Law Division decided the case od State v. A.R. The principal issue under N.J.S.A. 52-1 concerned whether the “crime spree” exception made the defendant eligible for an expungement of convictions for offenses that occurred over six weeks.
Judge O’Malley held in relevant part: In the present case, petitioner engaged in the unlawful sale of narcotics to a “friend” and undercover officer for a period of six weeks when he was nineteen years old. He admits, and the State does not dispute, that he engaged in this activity as a result of his own addiction to narcotics which began at the age of twelve. Therefore, the court finds that petitioner’s convictions are “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.” N.J.S.A. 2C:52-2(a). More specifically, although these events took place over the span of six weeks, they all involve the sale of narcotics to which petitioner was addicted. As noted in the colloquy above, petitioner sold these particular narcotics, not for financial gain, but rather to support his own habit. This is further substantiated by the fact that petitioner sold these narcotics to an individual who he believed to be a “friend.” Unbeknownst to petitioner, the “friend” was accompanied by an undercover officer; however, the record does not suggest that petitioner was a wholesale distributor of narcotics or in fact, did distribute to parties outside of his friends.
This is a published Law Division case. It is rare for a Law Division case to be published statewide. Law Division publication typically occurs when an open question of law is addressed and the prosecutor’s office does not appeal the decision. If there were an appeal, the Appellate Division opinion would issue statewide.