Should Someone Handle Their Own Expungement Or Hire An Experienced Attorney?

Technically, anyone can handle an expungement on their own, but I have found that most people who do it on their own don’t word the order properly, they don’t get all of the necessary information in the petition or they don’t serve all the proper agencies, which triggers an automatic objection from the prosecutor, requiring them to file it all over again. In my experience, when people who have tried to do it on their own come to see me, it’s because the prosecutor would not let things go through, so I take over and make sure everything is done properly. It’s not a tedious process; it’s just a very fact-sensitive process, meaning we have to make sure to dot all the I’s, cross all the T’s, and make sure that everything required in the paperwork is there, based on the statute.

To someone who does not practice law, reading a statute may be confusing, kind of the way a car insurance policy is worded; it reads like a whole other language. Put simply, someone can do it themselves, but it’s wiser to get an attorney because it would make the process go quicker and more smoothly without any objections.

How Many Times Will Someone Have To Go To Court If They Have An Attorney?

The client won’t have to go to court if their attorney has completed all of the paperwork properly, provided there is no objection to the expungement, because the attorney can go to court in their place. The exception is an early pathway expungement, when someone tries to expunge a felony conviction after five years from the date the sentence was completed, but before the ten year waiting period is over, because they have to prove to the judge that it is in the public interest for the expungement to go through, and they will have to attend that hearing.

What Should Someone Bring And What is Discussed at the First Meeting For An Expungement?

I will generally ask if the person had the paperwork from their case, including the charge, their judgment of conviction or a certified disposition; that’s all I really need. I can get all the other information myself, like Social Security number, date of birth, and so forth. If the person did not have their information and/or could not remember what they were charged with, I will direct them to the New Jersey State Police website to run their criminal history and to come see me when they had it.

The criminal history is not everything I need for the petition, so I will ask the client to do the fingerprints, although I will do all other work for the most part, like OPRA requests, simple records request and all of that, which can be obtained through the New Jersey courts website. I try to make the process as painless as possible for my clients; they are paying me for a service and I will try to give them 120% satisfaction on it.

Does It Help With An Expungement If The Attorney is Well-Connected?

Having an attorney who knows the players definitely helps, unless it was a complicated expungement. In those cases, it won’t matter who the attorney knew, as long as they put in all the proper information, in which case it should be granted. I handled one recently in which there were some interesting factual distinctions in a petition the person tried to do one on their own. The prosecutor objected, but I knew him and his personality, so I knew how I could make this go through quickly and I did. It was just a matter of knowing the players, like the saying, “It doesn’t matter what you know, it’s who you know.”

Tips For Prospective Clients To Prepare For A Future Expungement

First, they should keep all their paperwork from their case, including all police reports, because they will be important. That will make my job a lot easier and the process a lot quicker, because I won’t have to make applications to courts to get all the paperwork.

The second thing the person can do is to just flat out not get into any more trouble; people have come to me after getting two disorderly persons convictions and I tell them they have one more bite of the apple. They need only pick up one more conviction for a disorderly persons offense because if they pick up four, we can’t have anything expunged.

For more information on Hiring An Attorney For Expungement, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling (856) 310-9800 today.

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