Marijuana Expungement Lawyer in Camden, NJ
New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyer Advocates for Clients Through the Complicated Marijuana Expungement Process in Burlington County and Southern New Jersey
Disclosing the fact that you have been convicted of, or charged with, a marijuana-related offense in the past can be embarrassing, and in worst-case scenarios can jeopardize your eligibility for opportunities in employment, housing, and even education. The unfortunate fact remains that many will judge you for past indiscretions even if those indiscretions don’t accurately reflect your character today. Importantly, you can never fully anticipate how a potential employer, landlord or other relevant party will react to your disclosure of a past marijuana-related offense.
The laws governing marijuana possession and use throughout the country are changing rapidly—but although many people no longer even consider marijuana use to be illegal, technically, the laws governing marijuana possession, use and distribution remain in flux, and opinions can vary dramatically with respect to past marijuana use. Moving forward into the future, the relevant question will now require examining and evaluating how past marijuana offenses will be treated under New Jersey law. Importantly, if you would like to explore the possibility of obtaining an expungement for marijuana-related offenses in Burlington County or elsewhere in South Jersey, you do not have to wait for legislation legalizing marijuana to be passed and implemented in order to obtain a marijuana expungement.
Despite this, the path toward obtaining expungement for a marijuana-related offense can be much more complicated than you might initially think, so it is critical to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney to advocate on your behalf throughout the entire expungement process. One single misstep in completing New Jersey’s formal requirements for expungement can result in dismissal of your petition entirely. Call today to see how experienced criminal defense attorney Michele Finizio can help you clear your criminal record of marijuana-related charges and give you a clean slate for the future.
New Jersey Marijuana Expungement Process is Detailed and Complex
Marijuana expungements in New Jersey can actually be surprisingly difficult to obtain without in-depth knowledge of the state laws and legal system in general, even if your conviction was for a relatively minor offense. To obtain an expungement for a marijuana-related offense in New Jersey, you must follow detailed and specific requirements that are imposed by law and enforced by the courts and prosecutor’s office. These requirements include:
- Obtaining your criminal history from the state of New Jersey,
- Submitting to fingerprinting,
- Compiling a detailed history of any interactions that you have had with New Jersey law enforcement,
- Preparing the expungement petition, which will include information supporting the advisability of expungement in your specific case, as well as contain detailed information about your criminal past,
- Submitting the petition with the Superior Court in the county where you were originally convicted for the marijuana offense,
- Notifying all levels of New Jersey law enforcement by serving them with your petition for expungement via certified mail,
- Obtaining a hearing date, where a judge will determine whether to grant the marijuana expungement,
- Notifying various agencies in New Jersey once your expungement has been granted by serving the expungement order on all relevant agencies, including the courts, police, FBI and probation departments.
The time required to obtain a marijuana expungement can vary depending upon the complications and circumstances of your specific case, the prosecutor’s opinions as to the advisability of the marijuana expungement and also upon the availability of the judge who will ultimately decide whether to grant the expungement.
Current Requirements for Obtaining Expungement of Marijuana-Related Charges in South Jersey
Not every person who has been convicted of a marijuana-related criminal offense in New Jersey is eligible to obtain an expungement. To obtain an expungement, certain restrictions apply with respect to the types of criminal offenses involved in your past as a whole, and the degree of severity associated with those charges. Current New Jersey laws governing the expungement process were modified as of October 1, 2018 and, to expunge a marijuana-related offense that is classified as a disorderly persons offense (in other words, a misdemeanor), such as simple possession of marijuana or possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana, the following rules now apply:
- If you have been convicted of between one and four disorderly persons offenses, or petty disorderly persons offenses, and no other crimes, you may be eligible to expunge all four offenses,
- If you have been convicted of an indictable offense (a felony) and disorderly persons offenses or petty disorderly persons offenses, you may be eligible to expunge the indictable offense and up to three disorderly persons offenses,
- If you have been convicted of more than four offenses, but all of the charges related to crimes that took place at the same time (in other words, in a “crime spree”), you may be eligible to expunge all related offenses.
Before becoming eligible to expunge a disorderly persons offense, five years must pass from the time that you complete your punishment in full—whether that punishment involved jail time, probation, community service and/or the payment of monetary fines. For indictable offenses, the waiting period is extended to six years. In some cases, the waiting period for expungement of marijuana-related offenses may be reduced to three years if:
- Three years have passed since you completed your punishment in full for a disorderly persons offense or petty disorderly persons offense,
- You have had no additional convictions in that three-year period, and
- The court finds that granting the expungement early is in the public interest.
If you completed New Jersey’s conditional discharge program with respect to the marijuana offense, you may be entitled to obtain a marijuana expungement six months after completion of the program, assuming no other complications arise that would extend that time period in your specific case.
Potential Impact of Legislation Designed to Legalize Marijuana in New Jersey on Marijuana Expungements
The changing status of the laws governing marijuana-related offenses in New Jersey could have a substantial impact on the process for obtaining marijuana expungements under state law, but it is too soon to tell exactly what that impact might be. It is, however, clear that expungement for marijuana-related offenses in South Jersey will not become automatic, meaning that you will have to take action in order to clear your record and your name. Under developing laws, it is possible that:
- Driving privileges and voting rights could be restored, if they were revoked solely because of a marijuana-related offense that becomes legal,
- Certain marijuana convictions and arrests may no longer show up on your public record,
- Employers and potential landlords may be prohibited from discriminating against people who have been convicted of certain marijuana-related offenses,
- Even individuals with multiple prior offenses, or non-marijuana-related offenses, may be eligible for marijuana expungements after ten years have passed without being charged with another criminal offense,
- Expedited expungements with the possibility of e-filing may become available, meaning that, importantly, the applicable waiting period for obtaining the marijuana expungement would not apply.
Although it may seem that expungement for a prior conviction should be automatic when the laws change so that the marijuana offense is no longer even a crime, detailed requirements will likely continue to apply because of the need to protect the public interest and ensure that only appropriate candidates for expungement receive those expungements.
Special Rules Governing Marijuana Expungements for Drug Court Graduates and Juveniles in Southern New Jersey
New Jersey has created a separate set of rules that apply in obtaining a marijuana expungement if you have been convicted of a marijuana-related offense and graduated from the Drug Court program, or were convicted as a minor. For Drug Court graduates, marijuana expungements are available generally if:
- You successfully completed the Drug Court program,
- You were not convicted of any type of offense while enrolled in the Drug Court program, and
- You have not been convicted of any non-expungeable offense enumerated by statute, such as possession of a drug with the intent to sell, distribution of certain controlled substances or a violent crime.
Juveniles may be eligible for marijuana expungements if:
- You were under 21 at the time of conviction,
- One year has passed since you completed your punishment in full,
- You were convicted of an offense under either Chapter 35 or 36 for possession or use of a controlled dangerous substance, or for the sale, distribution or possession of less than one ounce of marijuana,
- You had no prior or subsequent convictions for indictable offenses,
- You have no prior or subsequent convictions for certain drug-related crimes,
- You have never used the pre-trial intervention system to obtain dismissal of an indictable offense,
- You did not violate the terms of probation or parole with respect to the marijuana-related offense.
Skilled Marijuana Expungement Lawyer Helps Clients Navigate the Evolving Legal System in South Jersey
Although there is no formal legal requirement that you obtain legal representation in pursuing your right to a marijuana expungement, the process of obtaining that expungement can be difficult and present many opportunities for mistakes. You are required to satisfy each and every requirement that applies in a marijuana expungement case, and those requirements may vary depending upon the prosecutor involved.
Although preparing the necessary expungement documentation on your own, or hiring a low-cost document preparation service to complete the paperwork, may seem appealing, retaining the counsel of an experienced marijuana expungement lawyer who will fight for your rights can both smooth the process and increase the odds that your expungement petition will be granted. Unforeseen complications can arise when filing any petition for a marijuana expungement in New Jersey, and it is important that you have an experienced lawyer by your side to help protect your rights.
Skilled marijuana expungement lawyer Michele Finizio will advocate on your behalf every step of the way in obtaining your marijuana expungement, and help you navigate the complex and changing laws governing marijuana expungements in New Jersey so that you can move forward with your life.
Contact a Hard-Hitting Criminal Defense Lawyer to Schedule a Free Initial Consultation Discuss the Possibility of Obtaining a Marijuana Expungement in Your Case Today
Although the laws governing marijuana use and possession are evolving throughout the country, the stigma that often surrounds criminal conviction that shows up on a background check remains intact. Further, regardless of how the laws actually change, marijuana expungements will not be automatic.
If you have been arrested or convicted for marijuana-related charges in Southern New Jersey in the past, call today or submit this online contact form to schedule a free and confidential consultation to explore the possibility of expungement with experienced criminal defense lawyer Michele Finizio.
Frequently Asked Questions About Marijuana Expungements in Southern New Jersey
No. After your expungement has been granted, your record will not actually be destroyed, but it will be sealed from the public and you can legally say that you have never been convicted of a crime. After you receive confirmation from the state police that your marijuana offense was removed from all relevant databases, you will no longer have any obligation to inform a potential employer, potential landlord, educational institution or anyone else that you were convicted of, or charged with, the crime that was expunged. New Jersey law actually prohibits a potential employer from asking you whether you have any expunged criminal record.
In many cases, you will not have to appear in court to obtain a marijuana expungement, especially if the marijuana-related offense was your first and only criminal conviction. The need to appear in court may arise if the prosecutor objects to the expungement or additional complications arise in your case, but it is possible to obtain the expungement without going to court.
Certain offenses involving the distribution of marijuana may be expunged from your record if the offense involved 25 grams or less of marijuana or hashish. This change was enacted under New Jersey law in 2010.