New Jersey Courts Automatically Expunge Over 360,000 Marijuana Convictions
Hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans have had their criminal records cleared of low-level marijuana and hashish offenses. According to a press release issued by the New Jersey Courts, about 362,000 people convicted of certain crimes were eligible for automatic expungement under the state’s Marijuana Decriminalization Law, which went into effect on July 1, 2021.
Signed by Governor Phil Murphy in 2019, the law decriminalized certain fourth-degree and disorderly persons offenses involving or related to marijuana and hashish possession or use. It also established processes for clearing the records of anyone convicted of these crimes.
From July 1 through July 12, 2021, nearly 88,000 cases were vacated and dismissed, paving the way for convictions to be automatically expunged.
The law applies to the following marijuana and hashish offenses:
- Distribution of less than 1 ounce of marijuana or less than 5 grams of hashish
- Possession of more than 50 grams of marijuana or more than 5 grams of hashish
- Possession of 50 grams or less of marijuana or 5 grams or less of hashish
A person’s record was expunged if it contained only one of the three offenses listed above.
Additionally, convictions were expunged if the individual had only one of the previously mentioned crimes on their record and any of the following:
- Possession of drug paraphernalia
- Use or being under the influence of a controlled substance
- Failure to make lawful disposition of controlled substance
The law also provides that any pending arrests, probation or pretrial monitoring violations, or driver’s license suspensions for failure to appear shall be canceled. According to the press release, over 1,200 people have been relieved of probation because their conviction has been expunged.
What Does an Expungement Do?
An expungement clears a person’s criminal record of eligible offenses. Essentially, the information is no longer accessible by the public, and courts cannot release it.
Expungement allows individuals to be relieved from certain restrictions or limitations arising from the conviction, giving them a second chance. Additionally, the individual does not have to disclose the conviction when applying for a job, housing, or school.
New Jersey Courts automatically expunged the records for those identified by the new law as eligible. If anyone feels that their record should have been cleared, they must file a motion with the court to have the case reviewed.
Florida’s Marijuana Law
Unlike New Jersey, Florida has not decriminalized low-level marijuana offenses nor legalized recreational use of the substance. If a person is caught in possession of or delivering 20 grams or less of the substance, for instance, they could be charged with a misdemeanor and face up to 1 year in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines.
Additionally, Florida courts are not automatically expunging a person’s record for marijuana-related crimes. For an individual to have their record cleared, they must first apply for a Certificate of Eligibility and then petition the court to expunge the case.
Arrested for a Marijuana Offense in Miami?
I am here to help fight your charge. I have seen how a drug crime conviction can alter the course of a person’s life. That is why I am prepared to pursue a favorable outcome, seeking to avoid or minimize severe and lasting consequences.