Expungement and Marijuana Decriminalization (Part 3)

by | Sep 11, 2021 | Blog, Criminal Law, Monmouth County, New Jersey, Ocean County

For administrative efficiency, those eligible cases have been grouped into the following four categories by the particular stage of the case: (1) cases that are pending adjudication; (2) cases that have been adjudicated but are pending sentencing (adult) or pending disposition (juvenile); (3) select cases after sentencing (adult) or after disposition (juvenile); and (4) other cases that have been disposed (as defined below). Accordingly, effective immediately, it is ORDERED as to those four categories of cases as follows: (1) Cases Pending Adjudication For cases in which adjudication is pending and where only the specific offense(s) remain active as of the date of this order, including cases in which the defendant is currently subject to a conditional discharge program: (a) such cases shall be dismissed pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:35-23.l(a); (b) such cases shall be expunged pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:52-6(a) (excluding N.J.S.A. 39:4-49.1, which is not eligible for expungement pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:52-28); ( c) any associated active warrants for failure to appear shall be rescinded; ( d) any associated violations of probation or violations of pretrial monitoring shall be vacated; and ( e) any associated court-ordered driver’s license suspensions or revocations for failure to appear shall be rescinded. Any rescission of a court-ordered driver’s license suspension or revocation pursuant to this order is separate from any license restoration fee or process required by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission.

Two categories of convictions that are overlooked by the Marijuana Decriminalization Law are marijuana-distribution related offenses that occurred in school, public housing, or public park zones. It seems illogical that the decriminalized distribution-related activity is a required element of these offenses, yet the now unprovable offenses are not treated any differently.

On the other hand, it is surprising that active warrants for failures to appear in court for the now decriminalized conduct are to be rescinded. Failing to appear in court is punishable by a contempt sanction independent of the underlying offense. If the underlying offense was an indictable marijuana-distribution, it could also be the basis for an indictable bail jumping charge.