FISCAL NOTE

[First Reprint]

SENATE, No. 3307

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

217th LEGISLATURE

 

DATED: AUGUST 21, 2017

 

 

SUMMARY

 

Synopsis:

Revises procedures for expunging criminal and other records and information, including shortening of certain waiting periods for expungement eligibility and increasing number of convictions which may be expunged.

Type of Impact:

Annual expenditure increases and revenue decreases to State General Fund.

Agencies Affected:

The Judiciary and Department of the Treasury.

 

Judiciary Estimate

Fiscal Impact

Annual

 

State Cost Increase

Indeterminate with minimum one-time cost of $500,000

 

State Revenue Decrease

Indeterminate

 

 

 

 

         The Office of Legislative Services (OLS) concurs with the Judiciary estimate.† The OLS adds that according to data provided by the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), currently about 8,400 expungements are filed annually.† This bill would increase this number by an indeterminate amount.

         The AOC states that although a complete estimate of the billís fiscal impact is not feasible, the Judiciary anticipates that it will incur:† a) a substantial annual expenditure increase due to projected caseload growth attributable to the billís expansion of expungement eligibility criteria; and b) a minimum of $500,000 in one-time information technology-related expenditures to ensure its automated system complies with bill provisions.

         The AOC projects that the bill may result in a significant, indeterminate reduction in annual State collections of court-ordered fines and other financial obligations because of the elimination of the requirement that formerly convicted persons satisfy any such debts before they become eligible for expungement.

 

BILL DESCRIPTION

 

††††† Senate Bill No. 3307 (1R) of 2017 would expand the categories of convictions for criminal, disorderly persons, and petty disorderly persons offenses that would qualify an individual for the expungement of the individualís criminal records and other related records and information.† The bill would take effect on the first day of the tenth month following enactment.

††††† The bill would also shorten certain waiting periods before a person may seek an expungement of a criminal conviction.† An expungement application may proceed so long as one of the following time period requirements is met:

††††† - six years, rather than ten years under current law, have passed with respect to all aspects of satisfying the most recent conviction (six years from the date of conviction, payment of fine, satisfactory completion of probation or parole, and release from incarceration);

††††† - the payment of any fine, restitution, and other financial assessment imposed by the court as part of the sentence for the conviction is not yet satisfied due to reasons other than willful misconduct, but the six-year time requirement is otherwise met;†

††††† - the payment requirement of any fine, restitution, and other financial assessment is satisfied, but six years have not passed since doing so, and the six-year time requirement is otherwise met; or

††††† - at least five but less than six years have passed with respect to all aspects of satisfying the conviction.

††††† The bill does not shorten the waiting periods before a person may seek an expungement of a conviction for disorderly or petty disorderly persons offenses, which is five years after satisfying all aspects of the conviction, subject to certain exceptions.†

††††† Under the bill, whenever the court would grant expungement relief to a person with an outstanding debt related to the conviction to be expunged, the court would provide for the continued collection of any amount owed.† Once the personís records and information are expunged, information regarding the nature of such financial obligation would not be disclosed to the public.† Any record of a civil judgment would be entered in the name of the State Treasurer, and administered by the State Treasurer in cooperation with the AOCís Comprehensive Enforcement Program without disclosure of any information related to the underlying criminal nature of the assessments.

††††† The court could nullify an expungement granted to a person with an outstanding debt related to the expunged conviction if the person willfully fails to comply with an established payment plan or otherwise cooperate with the Comprehensive Enforcement Program to facilitate the collection of any unpaid amounts.

††††† Finally, the bill would remove a bar on expungement eligibility for any person with one or more convictions for crimes, disorderly persons offenses, or petty disorderly persons offenses, who, prior or subsequent to the conviction for which expungement is sought had criminal charges dismissed following the completion of a supervisory treatment or other diversion program.† However, even if the person is successful in expunging any convictions, the expunged records would remain available for subsequent review for purposes of determining whether to grant or deny the person another entry into a supervisory treatment or diversion program for new charges.

FISCAL ANALYSIS

 

JUDICIAL BRANCH

 

††††† The AOC projects that the bill may result in a significant, indeterminate reduction in annual collections of court-ordered State fines and other financial obligations because of the elimination of the requirement that formerly convicted persons satisfy these debts before they become eligible for expungement.††

††††† In addition, since the bill would significantly increase the number of expungement applications, hearings, and court orders, the AOC anticipates a correlated significant increase to annual AOC expenditures.† The AOC, however, does not have the ability to estimate the number of individuals who, under the expanded criteria, may qualify for an expungement application, receive an expungement hearing, or receive approval of an expungement.

††††† In addition, the Judiciary anticipates incurring a minimum of $500,000 in one-time information technology-related expenditures to ensure its automated system complies with bill provisions.†

††††† Additional annual costs may also be incurred to facilitate case processing and judicial hearings to nullify or restore expungement orders due to a formerly convicted offenderís willful non-compliance or non-cooperation with the collection efforts of the Comprehensive Enforcement Program after an expungement has been granted.

††††† The AOC also notes that the bill may have a fiscal impact on the Department of the Treasury.

 

OFFICE OF LEGISLATIVE SERVICES

 

††††† The OLS concurs with the Judiciary estimate.†

††††† The OLS adds that according to data provided by the AOC, currently about 8,400 expungements are filed annually.† This bill would increase this number by an indeterminate amount.

††††† The OLS also adds that the bill would shift from the AOC to the Department of the Treasury annual expenditures for the administration of any portion of a civil judgment that remains due at the time the expungement is granted by the court.† The Treasury would administer these debts in cooperation with the AOCís Comprehensive Enforcement Program.

 

 

Section:

Judiciary

Analyst:

Anne C. Raughley

Principal Fiscal Analyst

Approved:

Frank W. Haines III

Legislative Budget and Finance Officer

 

 

This fiscal note has been prepared pursuant to P.L.1980, c.67 (C.52:13B-6 et seq.).