Everyone knows that when you are arrested and convicted of a criminal offense, there are immediate and obvious penalties: jail or prison time, fines, and community service are common examples. However, while such punishments are the ones which tend to fall into the spotlight, there is another, less visible drawback to a criminal conviction: the subtle punishment which extends for months, years, or even decades after the crime has been committed.
Unfortunately, even if an individual was released from jail years ago and has been a law-abiding citizen ever since, they can still face challenges in day-to-day life due to the lingering record of their criminal past. Former convicts often struggle to find work, obtain housing, or even forge social relationships, all because of an isolated mistake in their past. A conviction doesn’t just damage the present: too often, it damages the future.
Joseph Lombardo: New Jersey Expungement Lawyer
The good news is, it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. Relief for former criminals who are struggling to reintegrate into society may come in the form of an expungement. An expungement can remove your record from the public eye, and greatly increase your chances of finding employment, working in certain fields, or being taken on as a tenant. However, criminal record expungements can be difficult to obtain, and not everyone will qualify.
At the law offices of Joseph Lombardo, we believe in second chances, and we treat each and every client with dignity, compassion, and respect. We have been working to win expungements for our clients for 20 years. We have two decades of experience serving communities across southern New Jersey, including but not limited to Cherry Hill, Mt. Laurel, Voorhees, Glouchester, Vineland, Egg Harbor Township, and Hamilton, with offices conveniently located in Hammonton, Atlantic City, and Linwood. If your criminal record is interfering with your life, contact us today to see if an expungement is right for you.
How Do Expungements Work?
When an arrest is made, records are immediately created that cover various details of the individual and the incident. For example, fingerprints are taken, “mug shots” are photographed, and rap sheets are populated with details of the crime and the offender behind it. An expungement is a court process which allows certain individuals to eliminate, or seal, some of the records contained in their criminal history. This can make make a world of positive difference when it comes to applying to jobs, applying for housing, or even trying to form new interpersonal relationships.
However, not everyone is eligible to receive an expungement. When deciding whether or not an expungement will be granted, courts carefully weigh information such as the nature of the crime committed, and the individual’s overall criminal history.
Am I Eligible for an Expungement in New Jersey?
As with many other types of law, expungement law varies from state to state, and New Jersey is no exception. So how is eligibility for an expungement reviewed in New Jersey? The main factors are the type of crime, and the individual’s overall criminal record.
Type of Crime
In New Jersey, there are two basic groups of crimes: disorderly persons (DP) offenses, and indictable crimes. While the terminology may be different, these classifications are the rough equivalents of the misdemeanors and felonies that most states employ.
Examples of DP offenses in New Jersey include:
- Resisting Arrest
- Possession of Marijuana (less than 50 grams)
Indictable crimes are more serious offenses, and include examples such as:
- Aggravated Assault
While some indictable crimes are eligible for eventual expungement, some are essentially “too serious” to be sealed from the record. A few examples of crimes which cannot be expunged in New Jersey include:
- Aggravated Sexual Assault
- Criminal Homicide
- Child Endangerment
The purpose of an expungement is to give a citizens a second chance at life. Because of this, expungements are not granted to people with patterns of persistent recidivism, who commit crimes again and again. Instead, expungements are reserved for people with a limited number of offenses. For example, there is a limit of two DP offenses.
Unfortunately, expungements are not known for being swift procedures. Under N.J.S.A. 2C:52-5, a period of five to ten years must have elapsed since either the conviction itself, the completion of incarceration, the completion of probation or parole, or the payment of a fine (whichever came latest). However, an experienced attorney can help to expedite the expungement process.
If you think you may be qualified for an expungement of your criminal record, call the law offices of Joseph Lombardo at (800) 930-3241 to speak with an attorney about your legal options. Our phone lines are staffed around the clock, and we are even available to make holding or jail cell visits in the event of an emergency. Your first consultation is free, and all consultations are 100% confidential, so call today.