NJ Supreme Court’s new Expungement ruling

On August 10, 2015,  The NJ Supreme Court delivered new rulings on a pair of expungement cases (click the link below):


I am disappointed in this decision, although the article does a poor job of explaining the expungement statute and what exactly the Court’s decision means in reality. However, the reporter cannot be blamed too much, since New Jersey’s expungement statute is a poorly-written, complicated, and confusing “legalese” hodgepodge that in my opinion requires a complete overhaul.

Part of the confusion stems from NJ criminal law lingo. Unlike most other states, New Jersey does not use the terms “felony” and “misdemeanor” to describe criminal offenses. Rather, NJ calls felonies “crimes” and refers to misdeameanors as “disorderely persons offenses.” A “crime” is an offense for which more than one year in prison is a possible penalty per the statute, whereas a disorderely persons offense (commonly called a “DP” by prosecutors and attorneys) is an offense for which 6 months in jail is the maximum sentence. Then there’s “petty disorderly” offenses, which are somewhat uncommon and punishable by 30 days or less in jail as a maximum sentence.

The article is correct that only one “crime” (aka felony) can be expunged, unless the multiple felonies occur as part of the same incident. The Court has now very narrowly defined the “same incident” standard.

However, it is still possible to have one felony and up to 2 disorderly persons convictions (all from separate instances) expunged. If you have arrests that did not result in conviction, you can expunge all of them- however, if your dismissal resulted from PTI (Pre-Trial Intervention) or a conditional discharge in Municipal Court, there are additional complications.

Give me a call at 908-782-5313 to discuss your expungement issue.

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