IN THE MATTER OF THE EXPUNGEMENT APPLICATION OF P.H.A-1345-13T4
We consider the application of the expungement statute, N.J.S.A. 2C:52-1 to -32, where petitioner was charged with a fourth degree offense but ultimately agreed to a violation of a statute for which he paid a civil penalty. Petitioner requested expungement of all criminal records, which was granted by the trial judge; records of the civil violation and the file of the NJSPCA were not subject to expungement.
The State appealed, advancing numerous reasons for reversal, primarily arguing the final disposition controls whether expungement relief is available. Maintaining the initial criminal charges were part of the same file that was disposed of through a plea agreement allowing defendant to pay a civil penalty, the State asserts expungement cannot be permitted. We disagreed and concluded petitioner was not convicted and the final disposition was not a plea agreement. Rather, the criminal charges were dismissed. Accordingly, expungement was permitted under N.J.S.A. 2C:52-6(a).