The information on this page applies only to the situation where all three of the following conditions exist:
1. You were convicted of a crime (as opposed to a disorderly persons offense or a municipal ordinance);
2. At least six years have passed since the sentence date, release from prison, or completion of parole or probation, whichever happened last; and
3. Less than six years has passed since payment of fines was completed.
When all of these conditions exist, expungement may still be available. To obtain expungement in that situation, you must satisfy the judge that either of two conditions exist:
1. You paid your fines in substantial compliance with a payment plan that the judge ordered; or
2. You paid off your fines, but compelling circumstances prevented you from paying them on the schedule that the court set.
Sometimes, despite your very best efforts, payment of fines may be impossible for you. Here's why: When the judge imposed the fines, he also imposed other assessments. These assessments would have included a Victims of Crime Compensation Board (VCCB) fee, a “Safe Neighborhood Services Fund” (SNSF) fee, and a Law Enforcement Officers Training and Equipment Fund fee. Assessments may also have included (among others) a forensic laboratory fee, a Drug Enforcement Demand Reduction (DEDR) fee, and restitution. When you made installment payments that the judge ordered, a particular statute specifies the order in which those payments were applied. That statute is N.J.S. 2C:46-4.1.
Under N.J.S. 2C:46-4.1, application of payments to fines is at the very bottom of the list. Fines come last. Thus although you may have made thousands of dollars in payments over the years, those payments would have been applied to your other assessments, like VCCB, DEDR and restitution. Fines that were imposed may remain completely unpaid. In that situation, because your fines remain unpaid, you will be unable to expunge records relating to your New Jersey criminal conviction.
One other situation bears mentioning: The court imposes thousands of dollars in assessments, but no fines at all. You are still making payments on those assessments. The fact that the judge imposed no “fines” still does not help you. The problem here is that N.J.S. 2C:52-2 defines “fines” to include those other financial assessments. (If the 'skeeters don't get you then the 'gaters will.)
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