Expungement of an Individual’s Entire Record of Juvenile Delinquency Adjudications

Prior to 2010, juvenile adjudications in New Jersey could not be expunged. In 2010, however, the New Jersey Legislature amended expungement law to provide two avenues for expunging juvenile delinquency adjudications.

First, individuals may obtain expungement of juvenile delinquency adjudications as if they were adult convictions. Under this option, juvenile delinquency adjudications are subject to the same provisions that govern the expungement of adult convictions. Second, the amendments also permit a petitioner to expunge his or her entire juvenile record of juvenile delinquency adjudication, so long as the petitioner meets the following five-part test:

  1. Five years have elapsed since discharge from probation or detention;
  2. The individual has not been convicted of an offense during the five years prior to filing the expungement petition;
  3. The individual was not adjudged a juvenile delinquent for a crime not subject to expungement;
  4. The individual has never had an adult conviction expunged; and
  5. The individual has never had adult criminal charges dismissed following completion of a diversion program (such as Pre-Trial Intervention, or “PTI”).

Randolph Wolf recently represented an individual before the Appellate Division who, in addition to three juvenile delinquency adjudications, had one adult conviction. Because the adult crime constituted a “subsequent crime” which, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:52-2, operated to bar the expungement of his juvenile adjudications, the court below held that the individual’s three delinquency adjudications were not eligible for expungement under the provisions governing the expungement of adult convictions.

Mr. Wolf argued that the court below erred in relying on the provisions governing the expungement of the adult convictions. Instead, he argued that the individual met the requirements of the five-part so that his entire record of delinquency adjudications was eligible for expungement. He noted that the individual was discharged from probation more than five years ago, the individual had not been convicted of an offense in the five years preceding his petition, and the individual was not adjudged delinquent for acts that would constitute one of the crimes excluded from expungement. Additionally, Mr. Wolf argued that the individual had not had an adult conviction expunged (notwithstanding the fact that he had requested one), nor had he had an adult conviction dismissed following a diversion program. The Appellate Division agreed that the individual met all five requirements and therefore reversed the trial court’s decision denying the expungement of the individual’s three delinquency adjudications.