The NJ Supreme Court has placed further restrictions on who may have their criminal records expunged. On August 10th, the court held that individuals with more than one conviction cannot have their records expunged, even if the crimes occurred within a short period of time and were disposed of in a single plea. Only those who committed a crime during a single, uninterrupted event may seek to expunge their conviction.
New Jersey criminal law allows a person who committed only one offense to petition for expungement. Drug crimes, burglary, shoplifting, and traffic offenses may be included in petitions for expungement, but not sexual crimes or violent offenses. The waiting period in which to bring a petition varies depending on the crime.
The new stricter ruling was issued as a result of two consolidated cases. One petition was filed by a former Kean University student who sold marijuana to an undercover police officer on two separate occasions over five days. He pled guilty to charges of drug distribution and was sentenced to three years of probation. In the second case, a developer offered bribes to a mayor and members of a town council during separate phone calls over a 48-hour period. He pled guilty to offering gifts to a public servant and conspiracy. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail, 100 hours of community service and a $10,000 fine.
The defendants argued that because they were convicted of several charges during a single court proceeding, they should be able to wipe their records clean. However, the state appealed and in both cases and the Appellate Division rejected the requests. Justice Anne Patterson wrote for the majority that the the expungement statute’s purpose has been to help “offenders who have committed no more than an isolated infraction in an otherwise law-abiding life.”
Justice Jaynee LaVecchia dissented, writing that the law’s wording was ambiguous and referencing various studies showing the detrimental effect of a criminal conviction. Justice LaVecchia said the law was meant to help victims repair their lives and that she would have expunged the two convictions. Roseanne Scotti, state director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said the ruling would set back offenders trying to rehabilitate themselves. “It keeps people from getting jobs, it keeps people from getting housing, it just keeps people from being able to get their lives back on track.”
If you or a loved one wants to have their criminal record expunged, contact Adam H. Rosenblum of The Rosenblum Law Firm today. Mr. Rosenblum is a skilled criminal defense attorney who has helped people in similar situations. He will defend your constitutional rights and fight to have your criminal record expunged. Call him today at 888-815-3649.