The New Jersey Judiciary has expunged more than 362,000 marijuana cases from court records since marijuana decriminalization became effective July 1st.
Eligible cases are expunged automatically by the Judiciary. Once a case is expunged, it is removed from the court’s public record and does not have to be reported on applications for jobs, housing, or college admissions.
Members of the public, or their attorney, can go to the court where their case was heard or to the Superior Court Clerk’s Office in Trenton to receive confirmation or formal certification stating their case has been expunged. The Judiciary has issued more than 2,800 certifications thus far.
Marijuana cases eligible for expungement include certain marijuana or hashish charges alone or in combination with possession of drug paraphernalia, use or being under the influence of a controlled, dangerous substance, and failure to make lawful disposition of a controlled, dangerous substance.
The goal is to clear the records of those charged or convicted of certain marijuana offenses before the recreational use of cannabis was legalized. People usually must include information about their criminal or delinquency record when seeking a job, housing, or school admission. This information can hurt their chances of being hired, housed, or being accepted into good schools.
According to the New Jersey Judiciary, more than 1,200 individuals have been released from probation after their cases were expunged.
Cases involving charges that are not eligible under the new law will not be expunged. Those who feel their case should have been considered for expungement under the new law can file a motion for judicial review.
An expungement means this case is no longer part of your record. Thus, you do not have to report this case on a job, housing, or college application. The case has been removed from the public record and cannot be used to keep you from school, housing, or jobs.
The Administrative Office of the Courts plans to launch an awareness campaign next week to inform the public of the opportunities available through the expungement of marijuana cases.
Range of Marijuana Cases Expunged
The courts have expunged a range of marijuana cases. If the case included only one offense and possession of drug paraphernalia, use or being under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance, or failure to make lawful disposition of a controlled, dangerous substance, it was expunged.
The courts also expunged marijuana cases that involved attempts to commit and conspiracy to commit any of those offenses. Attempts and conspiracies to commit these offenses also were expunged. However, the legislation does not require that every case involving a marijuana charge be expunged. For example, large-scale trafficking was not expunged.
To confirm a marijuana case was expunged, individuals can go to the court where the case was heard to confirm that the record was cleared and receive a certification. In addition, you can get confirmation and certification by going to the Superior Court Clerk’s Office in Trenton.
If a marijuana case should have been considered for expungement under the new law, but it was not, individuals can file a motion for judicial review.
If a case was heard in Superior Court, start at the Superior Court courthouse in the county where it took place. If you were an adult, go to the criminal division. If you were charged as a juvenile, go to the family division. If a case was heard in municipal court, start at the municipal court in the town where you were arrested or charged.
Active arrest warrants related to that case are being canceled. Violations of probation or violations of pretrial monitoring will be canceled. Court-ordered drivers’ license suspensions or revocations for failure to appear in court will be canceled. However, you must contact the Motor Vehicle Commission to have the license restored. Anyone incarcerated or in detention because of the offenses listed above was released. Probation, parole, or other community supervision were also ended. Unpaid court-ordered payments, including civil judgments for non-payment, were canceled. Active arrest warrant related to a failure to appear in that case was canceled. Violations of probation and violations of pretrial monitoring were canceled.
The remaining sentence, juvenile disposition, ongoing supervision, associated violation of probation, or unpaid court-ordered costs, including civil judgments for non-payment, will be canceled. Active arrest warrant related to a failure to appear in that case will be canceled.
The courts have expunged the marijuana cases of anyone convicted or adjudicated delinquent if an individual was accused of distribution of marijuana less than one ounce of hashish less than five grams, possession of more than 50 grams of marijuana, or more than five grams of hashish, possession of 50 grams or less of marijuana, or five grams or less of hashish.