IN THE MATTER OF THE EXPUNGEMENT PETITION OF J.B.
In this appeal from the denial of a petition to expunge juvenile adjudications and an adult conviction, we construe the 1980 statute permitting expungement of juvenile adjudications. L. 1980, c. 163, codified at N.J.S.A. 2C:52-4.1. We conclude the trial court misinterpreted the unnumbered paragraph in N.J.S.A. 2C:52-4.1(a), "For purposes of expungement, any act which resulted in a juvenile being adjudged a delinquent shall be classified as if that act had been committed by an adult." In view of the legislative history of the 1980 statute, and canons of statutory construction, we construe the quoted
sentence to apply only to applications to expunge juvenile adjudications under N.J.S.A. 2C:52-4.1(a). The 1980 law was intended to allow expungement of juvenile adjudications, which was not otherwise permitted; there was no evidence the Legislature intended to make expungement of adult convictions more difficult by treating juvenile adjudications as if they were adult convictions.