New Jersey v. GomesAnnotate this Case
In consolidated appeals, the issue presented for the New Jersey Supreme Court's consideration was whether people such as defendants Richard Gomes and Moataz Sheira, who received conditional discharges for marijuana offenses before the 2021 adoption of the Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act (CREAMMA), were statutorily ineligible for admission into the pretrial intervention (PTI) program for new offenses. Both defendants received a previous conditional discharge stemming from a possessory marijuana offense that was no longer unlawful in New Jersey after CREAMMA. They were both charged with new offenses and applied for admission into PTI. A trial court concluded Sheira was statutorily ineligible for PTI because of his previous conditional discharge for marijuana possession, but a different trial court reached the contrary conclusion as to Gomes. Applying the “one diversion only” general limitation of the PTI statute, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-12(g)(1), and the terms of expungement statutes enacted before CREAMMA, the Appellate Division held that the defendants here were statutorily barred from PTI eligibility. The Supreme Court concluded persons who had pre-CREAMMA convictions for those marijuana offenses were no longer categorically precluded from future admission into PTI. Instead, prosecutors and reviewing courts must consider the merits of their PTI applications, without regard to the existence or circumstances of the earlier marijuana-related conditional discharges. "The holding harmonizes CREAMMA and its manifest legislative intent with the pre-existing general language of the PTI and expungement statutes, including the Legislature’s command in CREAMMA to apply its reforms to 'any case' that arose before its enactment."