Last month, the state Supreme Court ordered a an adult crime expunged from record, even though the defendant has an existing juvenile record, criminal lawyers in New Jersey report. In the Matter of the Expungement Application of D.J.B., the Supreme Court judges ruled that D.J.B., a 36-year-old father of three, could have his adult burglary conviction removed from his record, despite the fact that he had been previously charged with burglary as a teenager.
The New Jersey Expungement laws, N.J.S.A. 2C:52, allow certain juvenile and adult records to be cleared, provided the petitioners follow the proper processes, pay the fee, and meet the criteria for expungement. Lawyers in New Jersey say that the judges may consider erasing an adult record for persons who have committed certain crimes that constitute indictable or municipal offenses, minor drug crimes, or disorderly persons offenses, depending on their prior record.
At 16, D.J.B. was declared an adjudicated delinquent for the equivalent of a third-degree burglary conviction. He was put on probation for a year following the conviction. At 17, he was again adjudicated delinquent for his part in another burglary and for possessing marijuana. He spent a year in jail, and an additional year on probation. At 18, he was tried as an adult and pleaded guilty to fourth-degree burglary, and the judge sentenced him to three years’ probation and community service time.
At 21, D.J.B. also pleaded guilty to disorderly contempt charges, and spent another year on probation.
D.J.B. originally sought to have his adult burglary conviction removed from his permanent record, claiming that he could not advance in his career in the insurance industry without a clean record, and that he had been denied a coaching position on a local youth baseball team as well. His initial request for expungement was denied by Superior Court Judge Angela Borowski, who cited an amendment made to the state’s expungement laws in 1980. She argued that, according to N.J.S.A 2C:52-4.1(a), “any act which resulted in a juvenile being adjudged a delinquent shall be classified as if that act had been committed by an adult.” D.J.B.’s adjudged delinquent charges, therefore, should be considered adult crimes, and should preclude him from having his record expunged for his adult crimes.
But in their ruling, the state Supreme Court granted those with criminal records and juvenile crimes, such as D.J.B., the ability to make a better case for expungement petitions, by reinterpreting the amendment cited. The judges stated that the amendment was intended to address juvenile delinquency charges so that adults could later have them expunged, and as such, “a prior juvenile adjudication” should not disqualify “an adult who is otherwise eligible for expungement of a crime.” Criminal lawyers in New Jersey say that the state Supreme Court’s ruling will open the door for many people with criminal records in the state, who could not previously petition to have their records expunged.
At New Jersey law firm Helmer, Conley, and Kasselman, PA, our criminal attorneys represent anyone who is seeking expungement or representation for their crimes. Contact an HCK criminal attorney today, for a free, no-strings consultation.