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Appeals Court Rules on Related but Non-Concurrent Crimes

April 12, 2013 | Posted In Criminal Law - Appeals

The New Jersey appeals court recently reversed a previous expungement decision for a Medicaid fraud case from 2005, and in doing so, clarified the state requirements for expungement of two related, but nonconcurrent crimes. In reviewing the appeal request for R.Z., A-4253-11, the appellate court found that R.Z. and his New Jersey criminal attorneys  failed to establish that the crimes were committed concurrently.

The appellate judges relied on the meaning of N.J.S.A. 2C:52-2(a) to reach their decision in In re R.Z., A-4253-11. The New Jersey statute allows a convicted criminal to request that his record be expunged if he or she "has not been convicted of any prior or subsequent crime." In the original case, R.Z. used his position as a medical office manager to charge Medicaid for $75,000 in unnecessary laboratory procedures from August 26 to December 22, 1995. He also laundered more than $800,000 between September 6 and December 16 of the same year to conceal his theft. In 1999, R.Z. pled guilty to one count of second-degree theft by deception, and one count of second-degree money laundering. He completed a six-year prison sentence.

New Jersey law requires a period of ten years to pass before a person convicted of a crime may petition for expungement of his crimes. In 2011, R.Z. filed a petition in the state superior court to have his criminal record expunged, but a Monmouth County prosecutor labeled his petition ineligible because he was charged with a "prior or subsequent crime." His expungement was granted in the superior court despite the prosecutor's argument. Superior Court Judge John Mullaney ruled that R.Z. committed two crimes as part of an "ongoing criminal scheme" during a comprehensive date range from August to December.

The state appealed this decision, making the case that R.Z. could not petition for expungement based on 2C:52-2(a), because he committed the two crimes in two different time frames, despite the fact that he was convicted for both at the same time. The appeals panel emphasized the differing start dates for R.Z.'s crimes—August 26 and September 6—as evidence that the two crimes were separate, not concurrent. R.Z. must prove that he committed the crimes together.

In his petition, R.Z. and his NJ criminal lawyers argued that the two crimes should be considered concurrent, because he sought to enact one scheme, through two separate crimes—theft and money laundering. He claimed that because he committed the crimes close together, they should be considered together. The panel ultimately remanded the case for a hearing to decide whether or not R.Z.'s crimes were concurrent.

Expungement can eliminate the stigma of a criminal record from a person's past, but, as evidenced by this recent appeal, the criteria is strict. A skilled New Jersey attorney can guide you through the process of filing a petition for expungement and proving your case.  The attorneys at Helmer, Conley, and Kasselman, PA offer legal counsel to those seeking to expunge their record and make a fresh start.

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