In line with New Jersey’s effort to legalize “regulated cannabis” and decriminalize recreational use of non-regulated marijuana, the state has also automatically expunged certain marijuana-related offenses from many individuals’ criminal records. If your marijuana case has been automatically expunged, that is good news for you, but there are also some important considerations you should keep in mind. Our New Jersey drug lawyers explain below.
What Does it Mean to Have a Criminal Case Expunged?
Having a criminal case expunged can have a profound impact on your life. To learn about the benefits of expungement, visit our page on Clearing Your Record.
New Jersey Law Requires Expungement of Certain Marijuana Cases
New Jersey’s Marijuana Decriminalization Law, which took effect on July 1, 2021, required the state Supreme Court to expunge some – but not all – marijuana-related cases. The cases subject to automatic expungement include involving only criminal or juvenile charges for:
- Distribution of less than one ounce of marijuana or five grams of hashish (N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5(b)(12))
- Possession of more than 50 grams of marijuana or five grams of hashish (N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(3))
- Possession of 50 grams or less of marijuana or five grams or less of hashish (N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(4))
The law also required expungement of cases involving any of the above three offenses plus any of the following:
- Possession of drug paraphernalia (N.J.S.A. 2C:36-2)
- Use or being under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance (N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(b))
- Failure to make lawful disposition of a controlled dangerous substance (N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(c))
If a case involves any other charge (either alone or in combination with any of the above), it is not subject to automatic expungement under the Marijuana Decriminalization Law. This does not necessarily mean that the case is ineligible for expungement generally, but it does mean that individuals who have these types of cases on their record (and whose cases are eligible for expungement) will still need to file for expungement in the appropriate New Jersey state court.
Additionally, it is important to clarify that the automatic expungement of marijuana cases is limited to those specific cases listed above. If you have other convictions on your criminal record, these convictions will remain. This includes any convictions for lesser crimes to which you may have pleaded guilty (i.e., loitering in a known drug zone) in order to avoid the penalties previously associated with marijuana-related offenses.
What if You Still Have Marijuana or Non-Marijuana Charges on Your Criminal Record?
If you still have marijuana or non-marijuana charges on your criminal record, you should find out if these charges are eligible for expungement as well. While they will not be expunged automatically, you may be able to have them removed from your record through the traditional expungement process.
Speak with a New Jersey Drug Lawyer about Expungement
If you would like to know more about the expungement of marijuana and non-marijuana charges in New Jersey, you can contact us for a confidential consultation. To speak with a New Jersey drug lawyer at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A., call 877-435-6371 or inquire online today.
Over 20 attorneys at HCK have extensive experience in defending drug cases as they were former assistant prosecutors and/or police officers for a combined total of over 600 years of law enforcement experience. You can find out more about them on our site, and you can call Managing Partner Ron Helmer on his cell phone at 609 685-0665.