ASSEMBLY JUDICIARY COMMITTEE

 

STATEMENT TO

 

ASSEMBLY, No. 2829

 

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

 

DATED:  MAY 14, 2012

 

      The Assembly Judiciary Committee reports favorably Assembly Bill No. 2829.

      This bill would grant automatic expungement of records of a criminal conviction to certain persons who have completed a sentence to a term of special probation, commonly referred to as drug court.  To qualify for automatic expungement, the person cannot have been convicted of any prior crime or have been adjudged a disorderly person or petty disorderly person on more than two prior occasions; the conviction cannot be for any of the crimes that are ineligible for expungement under subsections b. and c. of N.J.S.2C:52-2; and the person cannot have had a previous criminal conviction expunged regardless of the lapse of time between the prior expungement and the completion of a sentence to special probation.

      The bill would set forth certain procedural requirements for a grant of automatic expungement.  No petition would be required and no fee would be charged for a grant of automatic expungement.  Any office or agency that would be required to be served with a petition for expungement pursuant to N.J.S.2C:52-10 would be notified by the court not less than 10 days prior to the grant of an automatic expungement that the automatic expungement is pending and would be served with all relevant information. An office or agency entitled to notice would be required to notify the court of any statutory disqualification to the grant of automatic expungement.  A statutory disqualification would be the only basis for the office or agency to object to automatic expungement.

      The county prosecutor would be required to investigate all facts relevant to a pending automatic expungement and report any facts that would bar expungement or make a grant of expungement inappropriate.  If no disabling, adverse or relevant information is ascertained the prosecutor shall provide documentation in that regard.

      If, within five years of the grant of an automatic expungement, the court that granted the expungement is notified that at the time expungement was granted there were criminal, disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons charges pending against the person, which charges were not revealed to the court at the time the expungement was granted or that there was some other statutory disqualification, the court would be required to vacate the order granting automatic expungement and reconsider the matter in conjunction with the previously undisclosed information.  Records subject to a grant of automatic expungement would be treated the same as records subject to an order of expungement as provided in N.J.S.2C:52-1 et seq.

      Crimes that are not subject to expungement include: criminal homicide, kidnapping, luring or enticing, human trafficking, sexual assault or aggravated sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual contact if the victim is a minor, criminal sexual contact if the victim is a minor and the offender is not the parent of the victim, criminal restraint, false imprisonment, robbery, arson and related offenses, endangering the welfare of a child by engaging in sexual conduct which would impair or debauch the morals of the child, endangering the welfare of a child, causing or permitting a child to engage in a prohibited sexual act, selling or manufacturing child pornography, perjury, false swearing, knowingly promoting the prostitution of the actor's child, terrorism, producing or possessing chemical weapons, biological agents or nuclear or radiological devices, certain convictions for the sale or distribution of a controlled dangerous substance or possession thereof with intent to sell, and conspiracies or attempts to commit such crimes.  Additionally, 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 may not be expunged if the crime involved or touched such office, position or employment.

      This bill would not alter the procedures for filing a petition for expungement under N.J.S.2C:52-1 et seq.