Expungement of Certain Marijuana or Hashish Cases

The Marijuana Decriminalization Law, which took effect July 1, 2021, required the expungement of certain marijuana and hashish cases. As a result, the Supreme Court has ordered that thousands of cases be expunged.

An expungement means this case is no longer part of your record.

You do not have to report this case on a job application, housing application, or college application. The case has been removed from the public record and cannot be used to keep you from school, housing, or most jobs.

The courts have expunged the cases of anyone convicted or adjudicated delinquent if your case has only one of these three offenses:

  • N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5(b)(12) - Distribution of marijuana less than 1 ounce or hashish less than 5 grams
  • N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(3) - Possession of more than 50 grams of marijuana, or more than 5 grams of hashish
  • N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(4) - Possession of 50 grams or less of marijuana, or 5 grams or less of hashish

The courts have expunged other marijuana and hashish cases as well. If the case included only one of the above offenses AND any of the below offenses, it was expunged:

  • N.J.S.A. 2C:36-2 - Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
  • N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(b)- Use or Being Under Influence of Controlled, Dangerous Substance
  • N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(c)- Failure to Make Lawful Disposition of Controlled, Dangerous Substance

The courts also expunged cases that involved attempts to commit and conspiracy to commit any offense listed above.

Attempts and conspiracies to commit these offenses also were expunged according to the July 1, 2021 Supreme Court Order.

The legislation does not require that every case containing a marijuana charge be expunged. If you have questions about your specific case, consider contacting an attorney or Legal Services of New Jersey.

How to Confirm If Your Case Was Expunged and Receive a Certification

You can go to the court where your case was heard to confirm that your record was cleared and receive a certification. Find more details in Directive #24-21.

Confirmation must be requested in person. You will need to bring identification. Call the court in advance to find out where and when to go.

You can call your local ombudsman for guidance on reaching the right office.

You can also get confirmation and a certification by going to the Superior Court Clerk’s Office in Trenton. Call 609-421-6100 for more information.

How to file a Motion with the Court to Review Your Case

If you think that your case should have been considered for expungement under the new law, but it was not, you can file a motion for judicial review. Please read the directive to get instructions on where to file.

Complete the Motion for Judicial Review form.

You can submit the form electronically or bring it to the court where your case was heard.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Marijuana Decriminalization Law and Expungements

Q. What is the difference between a dismissal and an expungement?

In dismissed cases, the charges are dropped, but there still is a public record of the case.

In expunged cases, the entire case is removed from the public record. It cannot be found in any public database maintained by the Judiciary and it cannot be disclosed by court staff.

Q. Why are these marijuana and hashish records being cleared?

The goal of the law is to clear the record of anyone who was charged or convicted of certain marijuana or hashish offenses before recreational use of marijuana and hashish was legalized. People usually must include information about their criminal or delinquency record when they seek a job, housing, or school admission. This information can hurt their chances of being hired, housed, or educated.

Q. What if I don’t remember where my marijuana or hashish case was heard?

Look at the paperwork from your marijuana or hashish case. If you cannot find any papers, you can still find where the case was heard.

  • If your case was heard in Superior Court, start at the Superior Court courthouse in the county where you were arrested or charged. If you were an adult, go to the criminal division. If you were charged as a juvenile, go to the family division.
  • If your case was heard in municipal court, start at the municipal court in the town where you were arrested or charged.
  • If you do not remember which court handled your case, you can do one of these things:
  • In all instances, call the court for instructions before you go. You will need to bring photo identification.
  • Expungement information will be released to the defendant or the defendant’s attorney only.

Q. What if my marijuana or hashish case is still pending?

If your eligible marijuana or hashish case includes only the charges listed above and is pending:

  • The case will be dismissed and expunged (removed from your criminal record).
  • Any active arrest warrant related to that case will be cancelled.
  • Any violations of probation or violations of pretrial monitoring will be cancelled.
  • Any court-ordered drivers’ license suspensions or revocations for failure to appear in court will be cancelled. Note that you must contact the Motor Vehicle Commission to have the license restored.

Q. What if my eligible case was decided, but the sentence or juvenile disposition has not happened yet?

  • There will be no sentencing or juvenile disposition and the case will be dismissed.
  • The case will also be expunged (removed from your criminal record).
  • Any active arrest warrant related to a failure to appear in that case will be cancelled.
  • Any violations of probation or violations of pretrial monitoring will be cancelled.
  • Any court-ordered drivers’ license suspensions or revocations for failure to appear in court related to that case will be cancelled. Note that you must contact the Motor Vehicle Commission to have the license restored.

Q. What if I am already serving a sentence only on one of the eligible offenses listed above?

  • Anyone incarcerated or in detention because of the offenses listed above was released.
  • Any term of probation, parole, or other community supervision ended.
  • Any unpaid court-ordered payments, including civil judgments for non-payment, were cancelled.
  • The case was dismissed and expunged.
  • Any active arrest warrant related to a failure to appear in that case was cancelled.
  • Any violations of probation or violations of pretrial monitoring was cancelled.
  • Any court-ordered drivers’ license suspensions or revocations for failure to appear in court that are related to this case was be cancelled. Note that you must contact the Motor Vehicle Commission to have the license restored.

Q. What if I completed a conditional discharge program or sentence on only one of the eligible offenses listed above?

  • Any remaining sentence, juvenile disposition, ongoing supervision, associated violation of probation, or unpaid court-ordered costs, including civil judgments for non-payment, will be cancelled.
  • The case will be expunged.
  • Any active arrest warrant related to a failure to appear in that case will be cancelled.
  • Any court-ordered drivers’ license suspensions or revocations for failure to appear in court that are related to this case will be cancelled. Note that you must contact the Motor Vehicle Commission to have the license restored.

Q. Should I get a lawyer?

You are not required to get a lawyer. Still, the court system can be confusing. It is a good idea to get a lawyer if you choose to file a motion. If you cannot afford a lawyer, you can contact the legal services program in your county to see if you qualify for free legal services.

Legal Services of New Jersey maintains a directory of regional legal services offices.
The NJ State Bar Association also maintains a list of county referral services that might be helpful.
Things to think about before representing yourself in court