New Jersey Expungement Lawyer
Criminal Defense Attorney Dedicated to Defending Clients’ Rights Throughout the Expungement Process in NJ
If you have ever been convicted of a crime or any offenses in Camden County, or the surrounding counties, you might feel a sense of dread every time a potential landlord or employer asks to conduct a background check—your criminal record can follow you for a lifetime, well after your punishment has been completed and you have learned the error of your ways. For those with certain professional goals, a lingering criminal record can even impact your ability to obtain a license to work in your chosen field of employment, prevent you from getting federal funding for college or prevent you from getting housing of your choice. Fortunately, New Jersey recently passed a new law to expand the universe of prior offenders who may now be eligible to have their criminal records expunged. Ms. Cohen files numerous petitions for expungements and all of her petitions have been granted.
Expungement is essentially the process through which your prior criminal record is cleared, giving you the true fresh start that you need to move forward with your life. However, historically, the availability of expungement has been limited to those who have committed certain types of offenses, generally without demonstrating evidence of significant subsequent criminal activity. New Jersey’s new expungement law significantly expands the availability of expungement for many who have been accused or convicted in the past.
At the Law Office of Jill R. Cohen, I believe in helping my clients obtain that fresh start so that they can move on to lead productive lives without fear that their criminal past will get in the way. If you have questions about whether your record is now eligible for expungement, call my office at any time to schedule a free consultation, in person or on the phone to discuss how New Jersey’s new expungement law could impact you and your future.
Attorney Jill R. Cohen Explains New Jersey’s New Expungement Laws
The New Jersey legislature recently enacted an important new law at N.J.S.A. 2C:52-2, that increases the possibility of obtaining an expungement for many clients. Effective October 1, 2018, the following rules governing expungements now apply with respect to criminal convictions (indictable offenses, which are more serious crimes, as opposed to disorderly persons offenses) and disorderly persons offenses:
- Waiting period. The waiting period is the time that is necessary to have passed, before an expungement will be granted. The new law lowered the waiting period to have certain criminal convictions expunged from ten years to six years. In some cases, the six-year period may be further reduced to five years, if an expungement will serve the public interest. It did not change the kinds of crimes that are not expungable but relaxes many of the rules.
- Disorderly persons offenses. Under prior law, a client could petition to have a criminal conviction expunged if he or she had no more than two additional convictions for disorderly persons offenses or petty disorderly persons offenses. The new law increases that number to three if you also have an indictable conviction. It also now allows for an expungement of four disorderly persons offenses..
- Convictions entered on the same day. In limited circumstances, some clients may be entitled to have an unlimited number of disorderly persons offenses expunged under the new law, if (1) the applicant has no additional convictions and (2) all of the convictions for the disorderly persons offenses were entered in the same day (regardless of when the actual arrests were made), for example, in a “crime spree”.
- Early pathway expungement of disorderly persons offenses. Clients who have been convicted of disorderly persons offenses may now be eligible for expungement after three years if no new convictions of any kind of have been entered, and the court decides it is in the public’s best interest. Character references, employer references, and volunteer work are important for an early pathway expungement.
- Juveniles. Clients who were convicted as minors will now be entitled to petition for expungement after only three years have passed, rather than having to wait five years.
- Diversionary programs. The new law removed the previous bar that prevented expungement if the client had one or more criminal charges dismissed because of successfully completing a diversionary program, such as pre-trial intervention.
- Restitution barrier. The new law also removed the previous bar that prevented expungement for those who failed to pay restitution, monetary fines and satisfy other financial obligations, as long as that failure was not willful. Now, the collection of outstanding fines will be transferred to another court, although any subsequent willful non-payment would vacate the expungement.
Automatic Expungements Help Drug Court Graduates and Clients Who Were Arrested Without Conviction
Under prior law, individuals who successfully completed drug court, or who were arrested but never convicted, were required to go through the process of applying for expungement. Under the new rules, if you were arrested for committing a crime, but your case was dismissed or you were acquitted, your arrest, case dismissal and/or acquittal will automatically be expunged beginning for cases dismissed or resolved favorably on or after April 18, 2016. Ms. Cohen will help you file for automatic expungements. Please note that the State police may take up to three months before your record is expunged. Clients whose cases were dismissed or resolved without conviction before that date will continue to be required to petition for expungement.
The entire record of a drug court graduate will be expunged automatically upon successful completion of the program if:
- The graduate has no other pending criminal charges,
- The graduate has not been convicted of a non-expungable offense,
- Public policy weighs in favor of expungement, and
- The graduate has not committed any crimes during or after completion of the drug court program.
- The graduate successfully completed the program.
Again, this automatic expungement will apply only to those who complete the drug court program on or after April 18, 2016. If you completed the program before this date, however, you can request expungement without being subject to the previously applicable waiting periods.
Schedule a Free Consultation With a Hard-Hitting Criminal Defense Lawyer to Discuss Your Expungement Questions Today
At the Law Office of Jill R. Cohen, I pride myself on providing innovative solutions for clients who have been accused or convicted of a crime in the past. Call my offices or fill out this free online form to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss how these new expungement laws may impact your case and future. My offices are conveniently located at 210 Haddon Avenue, Westmont, NJ 08108 in Camden County although I file expungements in counties throughout the State.
FAQ: How will a court determine whether an early pathway expungement is in the public’s best interest?
The court will look to the type of offense, as well as to your character and conduct since the time of conviction. Usually, this will include whether you have been arrested on any other criminal charges, maintained gainful employment, attended school or attained higher education, and completed any required punishment or counseling requirements.
FAQ: What types of criminal offenses cannot be expunged in New Jersey?
Most violent crimes are not eligible for expungement even under the newly expanded rules. For example, murder, robbery, arson, sex crimes, human trafficking, and certain drug crimes can never be expunged from your record. Child endangerment convictions and convictions of child pornography can never be expunged.
Schedule a free consultation if you would like to discuss your particular conviction and the possibility of expungement in your case.