October 17, 2014
Argued September 23, 2014 – Decided
Before Judges Koblitz and Higbee.
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Monmouth County, Docket No. 9700670-001/97-05-0925.
Expungement denied where three separate crimes IN THE MATTER OF THE APPLICATION OF D.W. FOR THE EXPUNGEMENT OF RECORDS. A-0833-13T2 NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION DOCKET NO. PER CURIAM
In July 2013, D.W. filed a petition seeking expungement of her criminal convictions for a series of thefts committed from November 1996 to January 1997. Judge John T. Mullaney, Jr. denied her petition, finding D.W. did not qualify for expungement under N.J.S.A. 2C:52-2a. D.W. appealed. We affirm.
D.W. seeks reversal of the court's decision, arguing that her series of crimes should be treated as a single crime spree under N.J.S.A. 2C:52-2a. D.W. was convicted of three counts of theft by deception, and three counts of credit card theft. She stole three credit cards from the same victim, and used them over a seven-week period making illegal purchases at different stores on different dates.
Expungement of a conviction for an indictable crime is governed by N.J.S.A. 2C:52-2a, which allows expungement "[i]n all cases, except as herein provided, wherein a person has been convicted of a crime under the laws of this State and who has not been convicted of any prior or subsequent crime."
Previously N.J.S.A. 2C:52-2a allowed expungement where there had been no "subsequent conviction." The Legislature, in adopting the new language, focused on multiple crimes rather than multiple convictions, thus making the criteria for eligibility more restrictive. In re Ross, 400 N.J. Super. 117 (App. Div. 2008).
In In re R.Z., 429 N.J. Super. 295 (App. Div. 2013), we reversed the grant of an expungement for a conviction of theft by deception between August 27, 1995 and December 22, 1995, and money laundering between September 6, 1995 and December 1, 1995. In R.Z. the trial court found these acts were part of a single ongoing criminal scheme. In reversing the expungement order we found that the purpose of N.J.S.A. 2C:52-2a was to offer relief to one-time offenders, and did not allow for expungement for separate crimes committed on different dates.
In In re Expungement of the Criminal Records of G.P.B., 436 N.J. Super. 48, 50 (App. Div. 2014), we held "[t]he expungement of criminal records is available only if authorized by legislation. There is no constitutional or common law right to the expungement of records relating to a criminal conviction." There, G.P.B. had offered to make campaign contributions to three separate municipal officials to oppose a municipal resolution. The offers were made on two separate dates. The trial court granted expungement of the single judgment that included multiple crimes occurring on two different days. We reversed that decision.
The circumstances of G.P.B. and D.W. are very similar, involving multiple crimes committed on different days as part of one scheme. In G.P.B. the crimes took place on two consecutive days as opposed to the seven weeks in this case. This case is also analogous to R.Z. Here, D.W. stole credit cards and, according to her plea, used them illegally to purchase goods at different stores on diverse dates.1 We agree with the trial judge that this was not a single crime.