If your convictions occurred at the same time, you might be wondering whether they will be treated as one offense for expungement purposes. In certain situations, courts will count convictions of offenses that occurred at the same time as if they are one indictable (felony) conviction or one disorderly persons conviction. In order to determine whether your convictions will qualify as one for purposes of expungement law, the court will look to the offense date.
By way of example, if you criminal history consists of several convictions with the same offense date, the court should treat your multiple convictions as if they were only one for purposes of expungement. The theory is that, since the crimes occurred at the same time, they are really one “offense.” So for example, if you were pulled over and charged with the disorderly persons offenses of possession of a controlled dangerous substance and possession of drug paraphernalia on one occasion, and you subsequently plead guilty to both of those charges, the court should treat them as if they were one disorderly persons offense for purposes of expungement, since the crimes occurred at the same time.
If, on the other hand, the offenses were committed on separate dates, they will be counted as separate, multiple convictions. As another example, if one day one you were pulled over and charged with the disorderly persons offense of possession of CDS and then the very next day you were pulled over again and charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, and you later plead guilty to both of those charges, the court would treat them as two disorderly persons offenses for purposes of expungement, since the crimes occurred on separate occasions.
But what if I plead guilty and/or was sentenced on the same date for offenses that occurred on separate occasions?
Sometimes, when an individual has multiple criminal charges pending from separate occasions, the court will consolidate those cases for purposes of entering a plea and sentencing. Thus, individuals who were charged with multiple offenses on separate dates may plead guilty to those offenses or the same date and/or be sentenced on the same date. As explained above, however, for purposes of expungement law and determining whether your multiple convictions will be considered one offense, the court will look at the offense date for each of your convictions. Thus, regardless of the fact that you plead guilty and/or were sentenced on the same occasion for your convictions, if the offenses were committed on separate dates, they will constitute separate, multiple convictions for purposes of expungement.
What about the “crime spree” doctrine I read about?
In the past, there was case law in New Jersey which held that individuals who were convicted of offenses that occurred within a relatively short period of time to each other (usually a matter of a few days) could be treated as if multiple convictions subsequent were only one for purposes of expungement. This was widely known as the “crime spree” doctrine.
The New Jersey Supreme Court, however, recently addressed this issue and held that such convictions could no longer be considered one for purposes of expungement. The decision involved two companion cases, In the Matter of the Expungement Petition of J.S. (A-84-13), and In the Matter of the Expungement of the Criminal Records of G.P.B. (A-2-14). Ultimately, the Supreme Court shot down any possibility that criminal offenses committed on separate occasions could constitute one offense for purposes of expungement.
Affordable New Jersey Expungement Lawyers
If your convictions occurred at the same time and you have questions about how they will be counted for purposes of expungement, contact Katherine O’Brien Law today for a free Expungement Analysis.
At Katherine O’Brien Law, we offer affordable expungements. We will handle your expungement for a flat-rate fee of only $695.00 (all inclusive). Call us today.