NJ marijuana decriminalization — how to confirm your record has been expunged
Since the beginning of July, the New Jersey Judiciary has expunged more than 362,000 marijuana and hashish cases from court records, potentially making life much easier for many folks seeking employment or housing.
But, because the goal is to keep these records out of the public's eye, the only way for one to guarantee that their case has been expunged is through an in-person visit to the court.
Adhering to part of the marijuana decriminalization law that took effect over the summer, New Jersey is in the middle of an awareness campaign aimed at informing impacted residents of the change and on educating them about how to receive a certification stating that their case has been cleared.
"To date, we've issued 3,857 certificates," Glenn Grant, administrative director of the New Jersey Courts, told New Jersey 101.5 on Oct. 7.
Not all marijuana offenses have been cleared. The courts automatically expunged cases involving the following offenses:
- N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5(b)(12) - Distribution of marijuana less than 1 ounce or hashish less than 5 grams
- N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(3) - Possession of more than 50 grams of marijuana, or more than 5 grams of hashish
- N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(4) - Possession of 50 grams or less of marijuana, or 5 grams or less of hashish
Other cases were expunged if they included only one of the above offenses AND any of the below offenses:
- N.J.S.A. 2C:36-2 - Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
- N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(b)- Use or Being Under Influence of Controlled, Dangerous Substance
- N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(c)- Failure to Make Lawful Disposition of Controlled, Dangerous Substance
Confirmation of a marijuana/hashish expungement must be requested in person. Members of the public, or their attorney, can go to the court where the case was heard or to the Superior Court Clerk's Office in Trenton to receive a certification, New Jersey Courts said. Individuals will be required to show identification.
"The idea of an expungement is to say that that record no longer exists," Grant said. "It is inconsistent with that idea to post 362,000 names on the internet."
It is possible that select records eligible for expungement were missed during the automatic process, Grant noted. Those who feel their case should have been considered can file a motion for judicial review.
Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.