Legislation to help keep some low-level crimes off permanent record clears Senate committee

TRENTON – Senate lawmakers moved legislation that would keep certain disorderly persons crimes from remaining on low-level offenders’ permanent records.

The bills, A3096 and S2169, establish a conditional dismissal program in Municipal Court for certain disorderly offenses. The program allows the court to suspend proceedings against certain offenders, which the bill’s sponsors say gives one-time offenders a second chance.

The bill was released from the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee Thursday.

“Pre-trial intervention programs have proven themselves to be a success in giving people in the Superior Court system the chance to turn their lives around without having a record of conviction and incarceration,” said Sen. Shirley Turner, (D-15).

“A program good enough for our state courts should also be good enough for local courts, where many nonviolent offenders first wind up,” she said.

Under the proposal, people charged with certain disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons drug offenses may be eligible for the conditional discharge. The individual would be required to successfully complete supervisory treatment.

Additionally, people charged with certain first, second, third or fourth degree crimes may be eligible for pretrial intervention. If the person successfully completes the program, the criminal charges would be dismissed.

 Alcohol sales

The chairman of the Senate committee held legislation he’s sponsoring that would allow for the issuance of special licenses to sell liquor to qualifying development projects in the state.

The bill, S1904, would allow the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control to issue special liquor licenses to qualifying development projects for sales of on-site consumption.

A qualifying development project is a real estate development project located in a municipality having fewer than 1,000 residents and in a redevelopment area established by the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission.

The New Jersey Restaurant Association opposes the legislation, arguing lawmakers should respect the large investment businesses that currently hold liquor licenses have made toward acquiring their licenses.

Currently, liquor licenses are given based on location population. Advocates of the bill argued areas with a smaller population have no vehicle to obtain such a license.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Paul Sarlo, (D-36), said he understood the opposition’s concerns with the bill, and reiterated that his proposal is simply designed to help certain redevelopment projects in the state.

Plans for a development project are in works for Teterboro.

“We do not want to devalue or run the risk of having liquor licenses pop up on every redevelopment,” Sarlo said.

“I do respect all of their concerns going into this,” he added.

Sarlo said he plans to continue work on the legislation and return it to the committee during its next meeting. Legislation to help keep some low-level crimes off permanent record clears Senate committee