Camden County’s unemployment rate was substantially higher than the state’s rate every month of 2018, and the trend is continuing into 2019. Finding a job is difficult, but for a person with a criminal record, it can oftentimes become impossible.
The National Conference of State Legislators tells us one in three adults has a criminal record. This adds up to about 77 million Americans whose criminal records are potentially available to prospective employers via background checks.
Attorney Matthew V. Portella provides criminal defense legal services to residents of Camden County, and surrounding areas. He has a particular interest in the expungement process, and the power expungement can give his clients as they put the past behind them and move forward in their professional and educational pursuits.
The Significance of a Criminal Record
The very fact that the results of a personal bad choice can continue to exist for a lifetime and impact both personal and professional accomplishments can be troublesome. Having a criminal record can severely limit a person’s ability to:
- Maintain employment
- Apply for, or maintain professional or occupational licenses
- Secure housing
- Purchase a firearm
- Continue educational programs
- Be granted a business license
- Apply for a government contract
- Participate in government programs
- Receive government benefits, loans, and grants
Expungement is a mechanism for a person to set aside the negative collateral damages that come with a criminal arrest or conviction.
Attorney Matthew V. Portella has extensive experience and a special interest in helping his clients get their criminal records expunged so that they will be able to legitimately mark “no” on those applications that ask if the applicant has a criminal record. Unfortunately, this is a privilege that is not always an option. Mr. Portella will carefully review and analyze each client’s case files to determine eligibility.
The Benefits of Choosing Expungement
One of the benefits of a New Jersey expungement lawyer is that they can determine whether someone’s criminal record is eligible to be expunged and file a petition in state court to have that record sealed away from the view of employers, landlords, and others.
In addition to sealing a criminal record, expungement provides the following benefits:
- Arrest, conviction, and other proceedings are deemed never to have occurred
- A person may deny the existence of criminal history when asked about it without penalty
- Official agencies must respond to any inquiry about your expunged history that no record of exists
- Limits disqualification or discrimination when seeking to obtain most government licenses
What Is Possible and What Is Not
Under N.J. Stat. § 2C:52-6, most arrests that did not result in a conviction can be expunged upon request. For arrests in 2016 or later that did not result in a conviction, New Jersey has recently changed its laws and now automatically expunges these records
There is no limit to how many times a person can request an expungement. Although it is possible to petition the court for expungement without legal assistance, the process is very specific, detailed, and can be time-consuming.
The best way to know that everything is handled correctly and promptly is to have an attorney of record complete the process.
A Simple Explanation
A criminal record is never actually destroyed. It still exists. However, if requested, it can be removed from public access. The caveat being, each agency containing records has to be asked to do so and each one must receive properly executed documentation.
A person can have records in his or her name at many separate locations, including:
- The New Jersey State Police
- The State Attorney General’s Office
- The county prosecutor’s office
- The sheriff’s department
- The probation department
- The local police department
- The Municipal Court
When the total process is complete, employers in New Jersey should not be able to locate a record. The applicant no longer is obligated to disclose the arrest or conviction to prospective employers the applicant is legally able to:
- Tell employers, friends, and family they were not convicted of a crime
- Apply for and possibly receive some professional licenses
- Apply for a change in immigrant status
There are defined waiting periods and specific exclusions for the expungement of criminal convictions in New Jersey. Some of the charges that can be expunged in New Jersey are:
- Drug offenses
- Disorderly conduct
- Simple assault
- Criminal mischief
- Possession of a fake ID
- Underage possession of alcohol
These convictions cannot be expunged:
- Criminal homicide (except death by auto)
- Aggravated sexual assault
- Aggravated criminal sexual contact
- Criminal sexual contact (if the victim is a minor);
- Criminal restraint
- Endangering the welfare of a child (if based on sexual contact)
- Human trafficking
- Causing or permitting a child to engage in a prohibited sexual act
- Selling or manufacturing child pornography
- Motor vehicle records
Time Limit Requirements Before Expungement
- Aggravated assault, drug trafficking, unarmed robbery – Ten years from the date of completion of supervision
- Burglary, assault, theft, shoplifting, certain drug charges – Ten years from the date of completion of supervision
- Marijuana possession, disorderly conduct, trespassing, theft of services – Five years following conviction, or completion of supervision (whichever is later)
- Disorderly conduct – Five years following conviction, or completion of supervision (whichever is later)
Expungement Is a Complex Area of Defense Law
We know, that for some of our clients, living with the consequences of their actions is easier said than done. It has been our pleasure to have been of service to each family as they put the past aside and began to move toward the future.
If you would like to pursue expungement, or if you simply have questions about the process itself, contact our office at (856) 310-9800 or write to us using our confidential email form.