New Jersey is well on the way to potentially legalizing marijuana in the state, touting massive potential revenue streams as well as reducing incarceration rates for what is popularly considered harmless activities–i.e. buying, selling and smoking marijuana. Joint committees in the state legislature and senate approved a bill to make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana legal for anyone over the age of 21. That same bill would allow individuals to file a petition to have marijuana-related offenses expunged from their criminal record.
The above-mentioned bills are slated for a vote in the full chambers on Dec. 17, and then need to be signed by Gov. Phil Murphy. Until that happens, marijuana remains illegal in NJ. However, those who have been convicted of marijuana-related offenses and are not otherwise disqualified may still be eligible to have their criminal record expunged.
Qualifications for a Marijuana Offense Expungement
There are several criteria that a person must meet in order for them to have their marijuana offenses expunged in New Jersey. Below is the criteria as it stands until any new laws are signed by the governor.
Limited number of convictions. A person is eligible to have their criminal record expunged so long as they have not been convicted of:
- more than one indictable offense (i.e. felony);
- one indictable offense and more than three disorderly persons offenses; or
- more than four disorderly persons offenses.
There are some exceptions to this rule, but most cases will be subject to these limits. This is true even if the offenses are not related to marijuana charges. The sale of marijuana is considered an indictable offense in New Jersey, while possession of a small amount is considered a disorderly persons offense.
Waiting period. A person must satisfy the terms of their conviction (jail/prison time, probation and fines) and then wait a statutorily established time period of years before applying for an expungement. For indictable offenses, one must wait six years and for disorderly persons offenses one must wait five years. Those who complete a conditional discharge for a marijuana offense can have the record of the arrest and the conditional discharge program expunged six months after satisfying the program requirements.
In some cases, a person may be eligible for an Early Pathway Expungement, which would allow them to reduce the waiting period.
Complete paperwork. A person must fill out extensive paperwork and send it to prosecutors, the court where the person was convicted, and law enforcement agencies throughout the state. It sounds daunting, but an experienced expungement attorney can help one get it done quickly and accurately.
For more details, check out our information page about the expungement process, including many common questions we get about expungements in New Jersey.
What Happens If New Jersey Legalizes Marijuana?
The bill that recently cleared state committees, S2703, would allow individuals to clear marijuana offenses from their criminal record at no cost to them. The typical limitations to expungement eligibility would not apply. However, individuals would still need to file the appropriate petition. This bill has not become law – yet.
Who Should I Contact to Expunge My NJ Marijuana Offense(s)?
There’s no need to wait for lawmakers to get around to legalizing marijuana before having one’s record cleared. If you or a loved one is seeking an expungement for a marijuana offense in New Jersey, contact the attorneys of the Rosenblum Law Firm right away. Our skilled attorneys have helped many people in similar situations. Let us use our experience to fight to have your record cleared. E-mail or call us today at 888-815-3649.
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