ASSEMBLY, No. 1060

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

214th LEGISLATURE

 

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2010 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman  REED GUSCIORA

District 15 (Mercer)

Assemblywoman  SHEILA Y. OLIVER

District 34 (Essex and Passaic)

Assemblywoman  MILA M. JASEY

District 27 (Essex)

Assemblywoman  L. GRACE SPENCER

District 29 (Essex and Union)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Assemblymen Diegnan, Prieto, Assemblywoman Quigley, Assemblymen Green, Giblin, Albano, Coutinho and Assemblywoman Tucker

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Provides for automatic expungement of criminal records under certain circumstances.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel

  


An Act concerning automatic expungement of criminal records and revising various sections of the statutory law.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.  N.J.S.2C:52-2 is amended to read as follows:

     2C:52-2.  Indictable Offenses.

     a.  [In] Except as provided in section 2 of P.L.  , c.  (C.  )(now pending before the Legislature as section 2 of this bill), in all cases[, except as herein provided,] wherein a person has been convicted of a crime under the laws of this State and who has not been convicted of any prior or subsequent crime, whether within this State or any other jurisdiction, and has not been adjudged a disorderly person or petty disorderly person on more than two occasions [may], the person shall, after the expiration of a period of [10] seven years from the date of his conviction,[payment of fine,] satisfactory completion of probation or parole, or release from incarceration, whichever is later, [present a duly verified petition as provided in section 2C:52-7 to] have his conviction and all records and information pertaining thereto automatically expunged by the Superior Court in the county in which the conviction was entered [praying that such conviction and all records and information pertaining thereto be expunged].

     [Although subsequent convictions for no more than two disorderly or petty disorderly offenses shall not be an absolute bar to relief, the nature of those conviction or convictions and the circumstances surrounding them shall be considered by the court and may be a basis for denial of relief if they or either of them constitute a continuation of the type of unlawful activity embodied in the criminal conviction for which expungement is sought.]

     b.  Records of conviction pursuant to statutes repealed by this Code for the crimes of murder, manslaughter, treason, anarchy, kidnapping, rape, forcible sodomy, arson, perjury, false swearing, robbery, embracery, or a conspiracy or any attempt to commit any of the foregoing, or aiding, assisting or concealing persons accused of the foregoing crimes, shall not be expunged.

     Records of conviction for the following crimes specified in the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice shall not be subject to expungement: [Section]N.J.S. 2C:11-1 et seq. (Criminal Homicide), except death by auto as specified in [section] N.J.S. 2C:11-5; [section] N.J.S. 2C:13-1 (Kidnapping); [section 2C:13-6] section 1 of P.L.1993, c.291 (C.2C:13-6) (Luring or Enticing); [section] N.J.S. 2C:14-2 (Sexual Assault or Aggravated Sexual Assault); [section] N.J.S. 2C:14-3a (Aggravated Criminal Sexual Contact); if the victim is a minor, [section] N.J.S. 2C:14-3b (Criminal Sexual Contact); if the victim is a minor and the offender is not the parent of the victim, [section] N.J.S. 2C:13-2 (Criminal Restraint) or [section] N.J.S. 2C:13-3 (False Imprisonment); [section] N.J.S. 2C:15-1 (Robbery); [section] N.J.S. 2C:17-1 (Arson and Related Offenses); [section] N.J.S. 2C:24-4a. (Endangering the welfare of a child by engaging in sexual conduct which would impair or debauch the morals of the child); [section] N.J.S. 2C:24-4b(4) (Endangering the welfare of a child); [section] N.J.S. 2C:28-1 (Perjury); [section] N.J.S. 2C:28-2 (False Swearing) and conspiracies or attempts to commit such crimes.      Records of conviction for any crime committed by a person holding any public office, position or employment, elective or appointive, under the government of this State or any agency or political subdivision thereof and any conspiracy or attempt to commit such a crime shall not be subject to expungement if the crime involved or touched such office, position or employment.

     c.  In the case of conviction for the sale or distribution of a controlled dangerous substance or possession thereof with intent to sell, expungement shall be denied except where the crimes relate to:      (1)        Marijuana, where the total quantity sold, distributed or possessed with intent to sell was 25 grams or less, or

     (2)   Hashish, where the total quantity sold, distributed or possessed with intent to sell was five grams or less.

     d.    In the case of a State licensed physician or podiatrist convicted of an offense involving drugs or alcohol or pursuant to section 14 or 15 of P.L.1989, c.300 (C.2C:21-20 or 2C:21-4.1), the court shall notify the State Board of Medical Examiners [upon receipt of a petition for expungement of the conviction and records and information pertaining thereto] once the records have been expunged. (cf: P.L.1994, c.133, s.6).

 

     2.    (New section)  Petition procedure under certain circumstances.

     a.     Any person who is seeking an expungement pursuant to N.J.S.2C:52-2 for an indictable offense and has had a subsequent conviction for not more than two disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offenses may present a duly verified petition to the Superior Court provided that he has never been granted an expungement, sealing or similar relief regarding a criminal conviction by any court in this State or other state or by any federal court.

     b.  The petition shall include the petitioner's date of birth, date of arrest, if any, the statute and offense for which petitioner was arrested and of which petitioner was convicted, the original indictment, summons or complaint number, the petitioner's date of conviction or date of disposition of the matter if no conviction resulted and the court's disposition of the matter and the punishment imposed, if any.

     c.  There shall be attached to the petition for expungement a statement with the affidavit or verification that there are not more than two disorderly persons offenses or petty disorderly persons offenses  against the petitioner at the time of filing of the petition for expungement.  The statement with affidavit or verification shall also state that the petitioner has never been granted expungement, sealing or similar relief regarding a criminal conviction by any court in this State or other state or by any federal court.

     d.  A person who has received a dismissal of a criminal  charge because of acceptance into a supervisory treatment or any other diversion program may petition the court for expungement pursuant to this section.

 

     3.  (New section) Petition hearings.  a.  Upon the filing of a petition for relief pursuant to the provisions of section 2 of P.L.       , c.        (C.  ) (now pending before the Legislature as this bill), the court  shall, by order, fix a time not less than 20 nor more than 45 days thereafter for hearing of the matter.

     b.  A copy of each petition, together with a copy of all supporting documents, shall be served pursuant to the Rules of Court upon the Superintendent of State Police; the Attorney General; the county prosecutor of the county wherein the court is located; the chief of police or other executive head of the police department of the municipality wherein the offense was committed; the chief law enforcement officer of any other law enforcement agency of this State which participated in the arrest of the individual; the superintendent or warden of  any institution in which the petitioner was confined;  and, if a disposition was made by a municipal court, upon that court. Service shall be made within five days from the date of the order setting the date for the hearing upon the matter.

     c.  If, prior to the hearing, there is no objection from those law enforcement agencies notified or from those offices or agencies which are required to be served pursuant to this section, and no reason set forth in subsection e. of this section exists, the court may, without a hearing, grant an order directing the clerk of the court and all relevant criminal justice and law enforcement agencies to expunge records of said disposition including evidence of arrest, detention, conviction and proceedings related thereto.

     d.  In the event that none of the persons or agencies required to be noticed has entered any objection to the relief being sought, the court may nevertheless deny the relief sought if it concludes that petitioner is not entitled to relief for the reasons provided in subsection e. of this section.

     e.  No petition for relief made pursuant to this section shall be heard by any court if the petitioner, at the time of filing or date of hearing, has a charge or charges pending against him which allege the commission of a crime, disorderly persons offense or petty disorderly persons offense. Such petition shall not be heard until such time as all pending criminal and or disorderly persons charges are adjudicated to finality.

     f.  A petition for expungement filed pursuant to section 2 of P.L.  , c.   (C.  )(now pending before the Legislature as section 2 of this bill)   and this section shall be denied when:

     (1)  Any statutory prerequisite is not fulfilled or there is any other statutory basis for denying relief;

     (2)  The need for the availability of the records outweighs the desirability of having a person freed from any disabilities.  An application may be denied under this subsection only following  objection of a party given notice pursuant to subsection b. of this section and the burden of  asserting such grounds shall be on the objector;

     (3)  In connection with a petition under section 2 of P.L.  , c.   (C.  )(now pending before the Legislature as section 2 of this bill) and this section, the acquittal, discharge or dismissal of charges resulted from a plea bargaining agreement involving the conviction of other charges.  This bar, however, shall not apply once the conviction is itself expunged;

     (4)  The arrest or conviction sought to be expunged is, at the time of hearing, the subject matter of civil litigation between the petitioner or his legal representative and the State, any governmental entity thereof or any State agency and the representatives or employees of any such body; or

     (5)  A person has had a previous criminal conviction expunged regardless of the lapse of time between the prior expungement, or sealing under prior law, and the present petition.

 

     4.  N.J.S.2C:52-3 is amended to read as follows:

     2C:52-3.  Disorderly persons offenses and petty disorderly persons offenses.

     Any person convicted of a disorderly persons offense or petty disorderly persons offense under the laws of this State who has not been convicted of any prior or subsequent crime, whether within this State or any other jurisdiction,  or of another three disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offenses,  [may] shall, after the expiration of a period of [5] three years from the date of his conviction, payment of fine, or satisfactory completion of probation or release from incarceration, whichever is later, [present a duly verified petition as  provided in section 2C:52-7 hereof to ] have his conviction and all records and information pertaining thereto automatically expunged by the Superior Court in the county in which  the conviction was entered [praying that such conviction and all records and information pertaining thereto be expunged].

(cf: P.L.1981, c.290, s.43).

 

     5.  N.J.S.2C:52-4 is amended to read as follows:

     2C:52-4.  Ordinances.

     In all cases wherein a person has been found guilty of violating a municipal ordinance of any governmental entity of this State and who has not been convicted of any prior or subsequent crime, whether within this State or any other jurisdiction, and who has not been adjudged a disorderly person or petty disorderly person on more than two occasions, [may] the person shall, after the expiration of a period of [2] two years from the date of his conviction[, payment of fine, satisfactory completion of probation or release from incarceration, whichever is later, present a duly verified petition as provided in section 2C:52-7 herein to] , have his conviction and all records and information pertaining thereto automatically expunged by the Superior Court in the county in which the violation occurred [praying that such conviction and all records and information pertaining thereto be expunged].

(cf: P.L.1979, c.178, s.111)

 

     6.  Section 1 of P.L.1980, c.163 (C.2C:52-4.1) is amended to read as follows:

     1.  Juvenile delinquent;  expungement of adjudications and charges

     a.  Any person adjudged a juvenile delinquent may have such adjudication automatically expunged as follows:

     (1) Pursuant to N.J.S. 2C:52-2 (7 years), if the act committed by the juvenile would have constituted a crime if committed by an adult;

     (2) Pursuant to N.J.S. 2C:52-3 (3 years), if the act committed by the juvenile would have constituted a disorderly or petty disorderly persons offense if committed by an adult; or

     (3) Pursuant to N.J.S. 2C:52-4 (2 years), if the act committed by the juvenile would have constituted an ordinance violation if committed by an adult.

     For purposes of expungement, any act which resulted in a juvenile being adjudged a delinquent shall be classified as if that act had been committed by an adult.

     b.  Additionally, any person who has been adjudged a juvenile delinquent may have his entire record of delinquency adjudications automatically expunged if:

     (1) [Five] Four years have elapsed since the final discharge of the person from legal custody or supervision or [5] four years have elapsed after the entry of any other court order not involving custody or supervision;

     (2) He has not been convicted of a crime, or a disorderly or petty disorderly persons offense, or adjudged a delinquent, or in need of supervision, during the [5 years prior to the filing the petition]four year after he has satisfied his detention, and no proceeding or complaint is pending seeking such a conviction or adjudication;

     (3) He was never adjudged a juvenile delinquent on the basis of an act which if committed by an adult would constitute a crime not subject to expungement  under N.J.S. 2C:52-2;

     (4) He has never had an adult conviction expunged;  and

     (5) He has never had adult criminal charges dismissed following completion of a supervisory treatment or other diversion program.

     c.  Any person who has been charged with an act of delinquency and against whom proceedings were dismissed may have the filing of those charges expunged pursuant to the provisions of N.J.S. 2C:52-6.

(cf: P.L.1981, c.290, s.44)

 

     7.  N.J.S. 2C:52-5 is amended to read as follows:

     2C:52-5. Expungement of Records of Young Drug Offenders. Notwithstanding the provisions of [sections] N.J.S. 2C:52-2 and N.J.S. 2C:52-3, after a period of [not less than] one year following conviction, termination of probation or parole or discharge from custody, whichever is later, any person convicted of an offense under chapters 35 or 36 of this title for the possession or use of a controlled dangerous substance, convicted of violating P.L.1955, c.277, s.3 (C.2A:170-77.5), or convicted of violating P.L.1962, c.113, s.1 (C.2A:170-77.8), and who at the time of the offense was 21 years of age or younger[, may apply to]shall have his conviction and all records and information pertaining thereto automatically expunged by the Superior Court in the county wherein the [matter was disposed of for the expungement of such person's conviction and all records pertaining thereto] violation occurred.  The relief of expungement under this section shall be granted only if said person has not[, prior to the time of hearing,] violated any of the conditions of his probation or parole, albeit subsequent to discharge from probation or parole, has not been convicted of any previous or subsequent criminal act or any subsequent or previous violation of chapters 35 or 36 of this title or of P.L.1955, c.277, s.3 (C.2A:170-77.5) or of P.L.1962, c.113, s.1 (C.2A:170-77.8), or who has not had a prior or subsequent criminal matter dismissed because of acceptance into a supervisory treatment or other diversion program.

     This section shall not apply to any person who has been convicted of the sale or distribution of a controlled dangerous substance or possession with the intent to sell any controlled dangerous substance except:

     (1)   Marihuana, where the total sold, distributed or possessed with intent to sell was 25 grams or less, or

     (2)   Hashish, where the total amount sold, distributed or possessed with intent to sell was 5 grams or less.

(cf: P.L.1987, c.106, s.16)

 

     8.    N.J.S. 2C:52-6 is amended to read as follows:

     2C:52-6.  Arrests not resulting in conviction.

     a.  In all cases, except as herein provided, wherein a person has been arrested or held to answer for a crime, disorderly persons offense, petty disorderly persons offense or municipal ordinance violation under the laws of this State or of any governmental entity thereof and against whom proceedings were dismissed, or who was acquitted, or who was discharged without a conviction or finding of guilt, [may at any time] shall one year following the disposition of proceedings[, present a duly verified petition as provided in section 2C:52-7 to] have his conviction and all records and information pertaining thereto automatically expunged by  the Superior Court in the county in which the disposition occurred [praying that  records of such arrest and all records and information pertaining thereto be  expunged].

     b.    Any person who has had charges dismissed against him pursuant to P.L.1970, c.226, s.27 (C.24:21-27) or pursuant to a program of supervisory treatment, shall be barred from the relief provided in this section until 6 months after the entry of the order of dismissal.

     c.  Any person who [has been arrested or held to answer for a crime shall be barred from the relief provided in this section where the dismissal, discharge, or acquittal resulted from a determination that the person was insane or lacked the mental capacity to commit the crime charged] obtains an automatic expungement pursuant to this section shall make a separate application pursuant to the provisions of section 9 of P.L.1994, c.136 (C.53:1-20.25) for expungement of DNA records or profiles which have been included in the State DNA database.

(cf: P.L.1979, c.178, s.113).

 

     9.  N.J.S. 2C:52-14 is amended to read as follows:

     2C:52-14.  Grounds for denial of relief.

     [A petition for expungement filed pursuant to this chapter] Expungement shall be denied when:

     a.  Any statutory prerequisite, including any provision of this chapter, is not fulfilled or there is any other statutory basis for denying relief.

     b.  The need for the availability of the records outweighs the desirability of having a person freed from any disabilities as otherwise provided in this chapter.  [An application may be denied under this subsection only following objection of a party given notice pursuant to 2C:52-10 and the burden of asserting such grounds shall be on the objector.]

     c.  In connection with a petition under section 2C:52-6, the acquittal, discharge or dismissal of charges resulted from a plea bargaining agreement involving the conviction of other charges.  This bar, however, shall not apply once the conviction is itself expunged.

     d.  The arrest or conviction sought to be expunged is, at the time of hearing, the subject matter of civil litigation between the petitioner or his legal representative and the State, any governmental entity thereof or any State agency and the representatives or employees of any such body.

     e.  A person has had a previous criminal conviction expunged regardless of the lapse of time between the prior expungement, or sealing under prior law, and the present petition.  This provision shall not apply:

     (1) When the person is seeking the expungement of a municipal ordinance violation or,

     (2) When the person is seeking the expungement of records pursuant to section 2C:52-6.

     f.  The person seeking the relief of expungement of a conviction for a disorderly persons, petty disorderly persons, or criminal offense has prior to or subsequent to said conviction been granted the dismissal of criminal charges  following completion of a supervisory treatment or other diversion program.

(cf: P.L.1979, c.178, s.121)

 

     10.  N.J.S. 2C:52-15 is amended to read as follows:

     2C:52-15.  Records to be removed; control.

     If an [order of] expungement of records of arrest or conviction under this chapter is granted [by the court], all the records [specified in said order] shall be removed from the files of the agencies [which have been noticed of the pendency of petitioner's motion and which are, by the provisions of this chapter, entitled to notice,] and shall be placed in the control of a person who has been designated [by the head of each such agency which, at the time of the  hearing, possesses said] to possess all records of expungement. That designated person shall, except as otherwise provided in this chapter, insure that such records or the information contained therein are not released for any reason and are not utilized or referred to for any purpose.  In response to requests for information or records of the person who was arrested or convicted, all noticed officers, departments and agencies shall reply, with respect to the arrest, conviction or related proceedings which are the subject of the order, that there is no record information.

(cf: P.L.1979, c.178, s.122).

 

     11.  N.J.S. 2C:52-16 is amended to read as follows:

     2C:52-16.  Expunged record including names of persons other than petitioner.

     Any record or file which is maintained by a judicial or law enforcement agency, or agency in the criminal justice system, which is the subject of an [order of] automatic expungement which includes the name or names of persons other than that of the [petitioner] person seeking the expungement need not be isolated from the general files of the agency retaining same if the other persons named in said record or file have not [been granted an order of expungement of said record, provided that a copy of the record shall be given to the person designated in 2C:52-15] had their records automatically expunged and the original shall remain in the agency's general files with the petitioner's name and other personal identifiers obliterated and deleted.

(cf: P.L.1979, c.178, s.123).

 

     12.  N.J.S. 2C:52-17 is amended to read as follows:

     2C:52-17.  Use of expunged records by agencies on pending petition for expungement.

     Expunged records may be used by the agencies that possess same to ascertain whether a person has had prior conviction expunged, or sealed under prior law, when the agency possessing the record is noticed of [a pending petition for] the expungement of a conviction.  [Any such agency may supply information to the court wherein the motion is pending and to the other parties who are entitled to notice pursuant to 2C:52-10.]

(cf:P.L.1979, c.178, s.124).

 

     13.  N.J.S. 2C:52-19 is amended to read as follows:

     2C:52-19.  Order of [superior court] Superior Court permitting inspection of records or release of information; limitations.

     Inspection of the files and records, or release of the information contained therein, which are the subject of an [order of] expungement, or sealing under prior law, may be permitted by the Superior Court upon motion for good cause shown and compelling need based on specific facts. The motion or any order granted pursuant thereto shall specify the person or persons to whom the  records and information are to be shown and the purpose for which they are to be utilized.  Leave to inspect shall be granted by the court only in those instances where the subject matter of the records of arrest or conviction is the object of litigation or judicial proceedings.  Such records may not be inspected or utilized in any subsequent civil or criminal proceeding for the purposes of impeachment or otherwise but may be used for purposes of sentencing on a subsequent offense after guilt has been established.

(cf: P.L.1979, c.178, s.126)


     14.  N.J.S 2C:52-24 is amended to read as follows:

     2C:52-24.  County prosecutor's obligation to ascertain propriety of [petition] automatic expungement.

     Notwithstanding the notice requirements provided herein, it shall be the obligation of the county prosecutor of the county wherein [any petition for] automatic expungement is filed to verify the accuracy of the allegations contained in the [petition for] expungement and to bring to the court's attention any facts which  may be a bar to[, or which may make inappropriate the granting of, such relief] an automatic expungement. If no disabling, adverse or relevant information is ascertained [other than that as included in the petitioner's affidavit, such facts shall be communicated by] the prosecutor [to the hearing judge] shall provide documentation in that regard.

(cf: P.L.1979, c.178, s.131)

 

     15.  N.J.S. 2C:52-26 is amended to read as follows:

     2C:52-26.  Vacating of orders of sealing; time; basis.

     If, within 5 years of the entry of an expungement order, [any party to whom notice is required to be given pursuant to section 2C:52-10 notifies the court which issued the order that at the time of the petition or hearing] the court receives any information which demonstrates  that there were criminal, disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons charges pending against the person [to whom the court granted such order, which] who received an automatic expungement and that those charges were not  revealed [to the court at the time of hearing of the original motion or that there was some other statutory disqualification, said] at the time of the automatic expungement, the court shall vacate the expungement order in question [and reconsider the original motion in conjunction with the previously undisclosed information].

(cf: P.L.1979, c.178, s.133)

 

     16.  N.J.S. 2C:52-27 is amended to read as follows:

     2C:52-27.  Effect of expungement.

     Unless otherwise provided by law, if an [order of ] automatic expungement is granted, the arrest, conviction and any proceedings related thereto shall be deemed not to have occurred, and the [petitioner] person may answer any questions relating to their occurrence accordingly, except as follows:

     a.  [The fact of an expungement, sealing or similar relief shall be disclosed as provided in section 2C:52-8b.

     b.]  The fact of an expungement of prior charges which were dismissed because of the person's acceptance into and successful completion of a supervisory treatment or other diversion program shall be disclosed by said person to any judge who is determining the propriety of accepting said person into a supervisory treatment or other diversion program for subsequent criminal charges;  and

     [c.] b.  Information divulged on expunged records shall be revealed by a [petitioner] person seeking employment within the judicial branch or with a law enforcement or corrections agency and such information shall continue to provide a disability as otherwise provided by law.

(cf:P.L.1981, c.290, s.45)

 

     17.  Section 5 of P.L.1997, c.353 (C.2C:52-27.1) is amended to read as follows:

     5.  a.  If an [order of] automatic expungement of records of conviction under the provisions of chapter 52 of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes is [granted by the court to] entered for a person convicted of health care claims fraud [in which the court had ordered] wherein the offender's professional license or certificate [be] is required to be forfeited and the person be forever barred from the practice of the profession, occupation, trade, vocation or business pursuant to subsection a. of section 4 of P.L.1997, c.353 (C.2C:51-5), the person may petition the court for an order to rescind the court's order of debarment if the person can demonstrate that the person is sufficiently rehabilitated.

     b.  If an order to rescind the court's order of debarment is granted, the person granted the order may apply to be licensed or certified to practice the profession, occupation, trade, vocation or business from which the offender was barred.

(cf: P.L.2003, c.89, s.77)

 

     18.  (New section)  No fee shall be charged for an automatic expungement of records pursuant to the provisions of chapter 52 of the New Jersey Statutes and  P.L.  , c.   (C.  )(now pending before the Legislature as this bill).

 

     19.  N.J.S. 2C:52-30 is amended to read as follows:

     2C:52-30.  Disclosure of expungement order.

     Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, any person who reveals to another the existence of an arrest, conviction or related legal proceeding with knowledge that the records and information pertaining thereto have been expunged or sealed is a disorderly person.  Notwithstanding the provisions of [section] N.J.S. 2C:43-3, the maximum fine which can be imposed for violation of this section is $200.00.

(cf: P.L.1979, c.178, s.137)

 

     20.  N.J.S. 2C:52-32  is amended to read as follows:

     2C:52-32. Construction.

     This chapter shall be construed with the primary objective of providing relief to the one-time offender who has led a life of rectitude and disassociated himself with unlawful activity, but not to create a system whereby periodic violators of the law or those who associate themselves with criminal activity have a regular means of automatically expunging their police and criminal records.

(cf: P.L.1979, c.178, s.139)

 

     21.  N.J.S. 22A:2-25 is amended to read as follows:

     22A:2-25.  Law Division filing fees.

     Upon the filing, entering or docketing with the deputy clerk of the Superior Court in the various counties of the herein-mentioned papers or documents by either party to any action or proceeding in the Law Division of the Superior Court, other than a civil action in which a summons or writ must be issued, he shall pay the deputy clerk of the court the following fees:

     Entering of complaint or first paper of any action or

     proceeding ............                                 $ 9.00

     Filing complaint ....................                            $ 3.00

     Filing answer or appearance .........                     $ 6.00

     Filing any other pleading, any amended pleading

     or any amendment to a pleading .....                    $ 3.00

     Filing and entering each order or judgment of court,

     including order to show cause....                         $ 6.00

     Filing and entering a voluntary dismissal, either by

     stipulation or order of court .....                          $ 7.50

     Filing notice of appeal .......................                 $15.00

     Filing proceedings or papers on appeal ........        $ 6.00

     [Filing first paper on petition for

     expungement ........                                             $22.50]

     Filing any other paper or document

     not herein stated .....                                            $ 4.50

     Signing and sealing habeas corpus ..............         $ 7.50

     Signing and issuing subpena .................               $ 1.50

(cf: P.L.1985, c.422, s.1)

 

     22.  (New section) The Supreme Court of New Jersey may adopt Rules of Court and the Administrative Director of the Courts may issue directives and guidelines to implement the purposes of  P.L.  , c.      (now pending before the Legislature as this bill).

 

     23.  The following are repealed:

     N.J.S. 2C:52-7 through N.J.S. 2C:52-13, both inclusive; and

     N.S. 2C:52-29.

 

     24. This act shall take effect on the 60th day after enactment.


STATEMENT

 

     This bill would authorize the automatic expungement of a person's record under certain circumstances.  This bill would eliminate the requirement that a petition must be filed by the person seeking the expungement.  Instead, an expungement would be automatically provided to an individual once the requisite amount of time has lapsed since the conviction.

     Absolute Bar to Expungement. The current provisions concerning those crimes which are an absolute bar to expungement have not been amended and would remain in effect.  Those crimes are as follows:  criminal homicide, kidnapping, luring, aggravated sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual contact, criminal sexual contact, criminal restraint, false imprisonment, robbery, arson, endangering the welfare of a child or perjury.

     Indictable offenses, disorderly persons offenses , petty disorderly persons offenses and violation of municipal ordinances.

     Indictable offenses. This bill would decrease the waiting for an expungement for certain indictable offenses and disorderly persons and petty disorderly persons offenses.  With regard to indictable offenses, a person who wishes to have his record expunged would be eligible for an automatic expungement of that record after the expiration of seven years. Currently a person may petition for expungement of a record of an indictable offense after the expiration of ten years from the date of conviction.

     Disorderly or petty disorderly persons offenses. A person who wishes to have his record of a disorderly persons offense or petty disorderly persons offense automatically expunged would be eligible for expungement after the expiration of three years from the date of his conviction.  Currently a person may petition for expungement of a record of a disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offense after the expiration of five years from the date of conviction. The current provisions concerning expungements of municipal ordinance violations after two years from the date of conviction remain unchanged.

     Special Petition Process. The bill does, however, provide for a special petition process when a person requests that his conviction for an indictable offense be expunged and the person has had a subsequent conviction for two disorderly persons offenses or petty disorderly persons offenses.  Under those circumstances, the person must file a petition for expungement with the court with supporting documents outlining the person's history.  Upon the filing of the petition, the hearing would be set not more 45 days thereafter.   A copy of that petition is served on the State Police, the Attorney General, the county prosecutor, the chief of police wherein the offense occurred, the chief law enforcement agency which participated in the arrest, the superintendent of the institution where the petitioner was confined and upon the municipal court, if any. The court may grant the expungement prior to the hearing if there are no objections from those served.  The court can deny relief even if no objections are entered if: if: (1) any statutory prerequisite is not fulfilled or there is any other statutory basis for denying relief;  (2) the need for the availability of the records outweighs the desirability of having a person freed from any disabilities; (3) if the acquittal, discharge or dismissal of charges resulted from a plea bargaining agreement involving the conviction of other charges (this bar, however, shall not apply once the conviction is itself expunged); (4) the arrest or conviction sought to be expunged is, at the time of hearing, the subject matter of civil litigation between the petitioner or his legal representative and the State, any governmental entity thereof or any State agency and the representatives or employees of any such body; or  (5) a person has had a previous criminal conviction expunged regardless of the lapse of time between the prior expungement, or sealing under prior law, and the present petition.

     Juvenile Records. The same time frames that apply for expungements of adult convictions shall apply for juvenile records as follows: seven years for an indictable offense; three years for disorderly persons offense or petty disorderly persons offense; and two years for a municipal ordinance violation. In addition, the bill would also decrease the number of years that need to have elapsed for expungement of the entire record of delinquency as follows: (1) three years since the final discharge of the person from legal custody, currently it is five years; (2) three years since the entry of any other court order not involving custody or supervision; and (3) three years after the juvenile is finally discharged from legal custody provided that he has not been convicted of a crime or disorderly persons offense or petty disorderly persons offense.

     Young drug offender. With regard to expungement for a young drug offender (who at the time of the offense was 21 years of age or younger), the time frame would be one year following the conviction or termination of probation or parole; provided the conviction did not involve sale or distribution of a controlled dangerous substance or possession with intent to sell. The current statute allows for a petition to be made not less than one year following conviction.

     Arrests not resulting in convictions. In addition, this bill amends that section of the law concerning any arrests which have not resulted in convictions to provide that these expungements would also be automatically expunged one year after the disposition of proceedings. The bill clarifies that a separate application must be made for expungement of DNA records in accordance with the provisions of N.J.S.A.53:1-20.25.

     Grounds for denial. The grounds for denial of relief would remain unchanged under the provisions of the bill. Therefore an expungement would be denied if  any statutory prerequisites were not fulfilled, the need for availability of records outweighs the desirability of having a person freed from any disabilities, if the dismissal resulted from a plea agreement, the arrest or conviction sought to be expunged is the subject of a civil action and the person seeking the expungement  has been granted a dismissal of the criminal charges following completion of supervisory treatment.

     Elimination of fee requirement. Currently, N.J.S.A.2C:52-29 requires any individual who is seeking an expungement to formerly petition the court for an expungement and pay a $30.00 fee to defer any administrative costs in processing the application for an expungement. This bill would repeal N.J.S.A.2C:52-29 to eliminate the fee requirement for expungement.  Accordingly, N.J.S.22A:2-25 which concerns Superior Court, Law Division filing fees would also be amended to eliminate the $22.50 for filing of the first paper on petition for expungement.

     Repealed sections.This bill would repeal those sections of the law which provided for a petition, and other supporting documents, to be filed for an expungement of a person's criminal record. The bill eliminates all these requirements to provide for an automatic expungement procedure.

     Sections which have not been repealed. The following sections have not been repealed and would remain in effect: (1) N.J.S.A.2C:52-18 (allows information to be supplied to the Violent Crimes Compensation Board); (2) N.J.S.A.2C:52-20 (allows use of expunged records in conjunction with supervisory treatment  or diversion programs); (3)  N.J.S.A.2C:52-21 (use of expunged records in conjunction with setting bail, presentence report or sentencing);  (4) N.J.S.A.2C:52-22 (use of expunged records by Parole Board); (5) N.J.S.A.2C:52-23 (use of expunged records by the Department of Corrections); (6)  N.J.S.2C:52-25 (retroactive application of the statute); and (7) N.J.S.2C:52-28 (inapplicability of the expungement statute to arrests or convictions for motor vehicle offenses).