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I Want to Be a Nurse, but I Sold Marijuana in College!

September 22nd, 2015

The New Jersey Supreme Court recently affirmed an Appellate Division decision regarding J.S who wanted to expunge (seal) his criminal record. When J.S. was a sophomore in college he sold some marijuana to an undercover police officer on two separate occasions.  As a result, J.S. was charged with two instances of drug distribution.  He entered a guilty plea to the two charges and was sentenced to three years of probation. He successfully completed probation and eventually asked the trial court to expunge (seal) his criminal record because he wanted to become a nurse.  J.S. was concerned that his criminal record would bar him from getting a nursing license and an expungement in New Jersey would have allowed him to truthfully say he was never charged or convicted of drug distribution.

The trial court agreed to seal his criminal record, but the state appealed the decision because it did not agree that J.S.'s criminal record should be sealed.  New Jersey's expungement law says that defendants who commit more than one crime at different times are not eligible for expungement. The Appellate Division reversed the trail court's decision to allow an expungement. The New Jersey Supreme Court agreed with the Appellate Division. The case is In re Expungement Petitions of J.S and G.P.B. and it was decided on August 10, 2015.

Will a record of these offenses prevent J.S. from becoming a registered nurse?  Not necessarily. Although an expungement of his criminal record would have been helpful, his criminal record may not prevent him from becoming a registered nurse if he can demonstrate to the Board of Nursing that he is rehabilitated and not a threat to health care consurmers.

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