Drug Court Expungements & The Public Interest: Part 3

by | Sep 5, 2017 | Blog, Criminal Law, Drug Crime, Law Reform and Amendments, Monmouth County, Ocean County

The bill was amended and merged into a committee substitute with other bills that proposed various amendments to Chapter 52, mainly to reduce the waiting periods for expungements. See Assembly Committee Substitute for Assembly Bill Nos. 206, 471, 1663, 2879, 3060 and 3108, 216th Legislature (Dec. 11, 2014) (Assembly Committee Substitute). With respect to Drug Court graduates, the committee substitute substantially expanded the nature of relief offered by authorizing expungement of all prior arrests and convictions. See id. at § 1.

Note that the “waiting periods for expungements” references the waiting period between completion of a sentence and the date that an expungement application can be submitted to the Superior Court in the county where the conviction occurred. There is an eight to nine month delay before a successful application is granted, disseminated to the state agencies with a record of the arrest and conviction, and the actual purging of the records. It should come as no surprise that the purging of defendants’ conviction records is not a high priority for law enforcement agencies. This explains why the record-purging process takes so long. These delays are outside of the applicants’ and their attorneys’ control. Anyone who promises a faster turnaround should not be trusted.

Rather than limiting expungement to convictions of “crimes not included in the list of crimes that may not be expunged” in N.J.S.A. 2C:52-2(b) or -2(c), see Assembly Bill 471, supra, at § 1, the substitute referred to, as a disqualification, “a conviction for any offense barred from expungement” under N.J.S.A. 2C:52-2(b) or -2(c). Assembly Committee Substitute, supra, at § 1. We do not infer from this wording change any intent to narrow the disqualification, nor does the committee’s statement suggest one, as it simply tracks the statutory language. See Assembly Judiciary Committee Statement to Assembly Committee Substitute at 1 (Dec. 11, 2014) (“The substitute provides that a person would not be eligible for expungement under this provision of law if the records include a conviction for any offense barred from expungement pursuant to subsection b. or c. of N.J.S.A. 2C:52-2.”).