New Jersey has carved out special exceptions to the expungement rules for certain drug offenses committed by young drug offenders. This is codified in New Jersey statute N.J.S. 2C:52-5 which provides in pertinent part:
Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 2C:52-2 and 2C:52-3, after a period of not less than one year following conviction, termination of probation or parole or discharge from custody, whichever is later, any person convicted of an offense under chapters 35 or 36 of this title for the possession or use of a controlled dangerous substance, convicted of violating P.L.1955, c. 277, § 3 (C. 2A:170-77.5), or convicted of violating P.L.1962, c. 113, § 1 (C. 2A:170-77.8), and who at the time of the offense was 21 years of age or younger, may apply to the Superior Court in the county wherein the matter was disposed of for the expungement of such person’s conviction and all records pertaining thereto. The relief of expungement under this section shall be granted only if said person has not, prior to the time of hearing, violated any of the conditions of his probation or parole, albeit subsequent to discharge from probation or parole, has not been convicted of any previous or subsequent criminal act or any subsequent or previous violation of chapters 35 or 36 of this title or of P.L.1955, c. 277, § 3 (C. 2A:170-77.5) or of P.L.1962, c. 113, § 1 (C. 2A:170-77.8), or who has not had a prior or subsequent criminal matter dismissed because of acceptance into a supervisory treatment or other diversion program.
This section shall not apply to any person who has been convicted of the sale or distribution of a controlled dangerous substance or possession with the intent to sell any controlled dangerous substance except:
(1) Marijuana, where the total sold, distributed or possessed with intent to sell was 25 grams or less, or
(2) Hashish, where the total amount sold, distributed or possessed with intent to sell was 5 grams or less.
I often have clients contact me about eligibility for an expungement as a youthful drug offender. According to the above statute, a defendant, who at the time of their possession and/or use of a Controlled Dangerous Substance conviction was twenty-one (21) years or younger, may petition the courts of New Jersey for an expungement of their criminal record after only one (1) year from said conviction. The only other requirement is that the Defendant must have completed all conditions imposed by the courts without issue. The legislature has also included within the Youthful Drug Offender Statute an exception for individuals whom of which were also convicted a of minor drug distribution charge.The Youthful Drug Offender Statute provides a great exception to the otherwise traditionally harsh expungement laws in New Jersey. This “exception” provides a great opportunity to all youthful drug offenders. As most of you are well aware, a criminal drug conviction can have severe consequences when it comes to employment and secondary education opportunities. Therefore, it is in everyone’s best interest to expunge ones record immediately if eligible.