Expungement and Marijuana Decriminalization (Part 7)

by | Sep 19, 2021 | Blog, Criminal Law, Monmouth County, New Jersey, Ocean County

The expungement statute referenced throughout the New Jersey Supreme Court’s Order reads:

2C:52-6.1. Certain Crimes Expunged by Operation of Law. On the first day of the fifth month next following the effective date of P.L.2021, any case that, prior to that effective date, includes a conviction or adjudication of delinquency solely for one or more crimes or offenses involving manufacturing, distributing, or dispensing, or possessing or having under control with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, marijuana or hashish in violation of paragraph (12) of subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:35-5, or obtaining, possessing, using, being under the influence of, or failing to make lawful disposition of marijuana or hashish in violation of paragraph (3) or (4) of subsection a., or subsection b., or subsection c. of N.J.S. 2C:35-10, or a violation involving marijuana or hashish as described herein and a violation of N.J.S.2C:36-2 for using or possessing with intent to use drug paraphernalia with that marijuana or hashish, alone or in combination with each other, or any disorderly persons offense or petty disorderly persons offense subject to conditional discharge pursuant to N.J.S.2C:36A-1, shall be expunged by operation of law, and any remaining sentence, ongoing supervision, or unpaid court-ordered financial assessment as defined in section 8 of P.L.2017, shall be vacated by operation of law. The Administrative Director of the Courts, in consultation with the Attorney General, may take any administrative action as may be necessary to expeditiously effectuate the expungement of records associated with any expunged matter.

Adopted. L. 2021, c. 16, §60, effective February 22, 2021; L. 2021, c. 19, §5, effective February 22, 2021.

Although this provision was first adopted by L. 2021, c. 16, §60, it was readopted by L. 2021, c. 19, §5 with the same effective date, as the result of a reconciliation agreement between the Governor and Legislature. Even after all of the time spent drafting this statute, the language still leaves some ambiguities. First, it uses the permissive term “may” with regard to what is required of the Administrative Director of the Courts. Also, it seems to indicate that all drug paraphernalia cases are subject to its terms, whereas it should only be cases related to marijuana and hashish that are affected.