Just recently, the Law Office of Randolph H. Wolf represented a client that was being charged with their fourth cell phone violation in New Jersey. As a fourth offense, pursuant to New Jersey’s hands free driving law, N.J.S.A. 39:4-97.3, the client faced a fine of between $600.00 and $800.00 dollars, the assessment of 3 motor vehicle points, and up to 90 days of driver’s license suspension. Read more
Expungement of Conviction for Third-Degree Possession of C.D.S. with Intent to Distribute Granted in Mercer County
The New Jersey expungement lawyers at the Law Office of Randolph H. Wolf just recently represented another client in Mercer County on another successful “public interest” expungement of his conviction for third degree possession of CDS with intent to distribute. In the past, convictions for possession of CDS with intent to distribute were ineligible for expungement. In 2010, however, the law changed. If the conviction was of the third or fourth degree, the record eligible for expungement so long as you prove that expungement is consistent with the “public interest.”
The client we recently represented was arrested in 1989 and charged with possession of CDS (heroin) in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(1), possession of C.D.S. (heroin) with intent to distribute in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5A(1), and distribution of C.D.S. (heroin) in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:5b(3). The client subsequently appeared in the Mercer County Superior Court, where he was found guilty of third-degree possession of CDS in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(1), third-degree possession of C.D.S. with intent to distribute in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5A(1), and third-degree distribution of C.D.S. in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:5b(3).
Pursuant to the 2010 amendments to the expungement statute, N.J.S.A. 2C:52-2(c)(3);
c.In the case of conviction for the sale or distribution of a controlled dangerous substance or possession thereof with the intent to sell, expungement shall be denied except where the crimes relate to involve:…
(3) Any controlled dangerous substance provided that the conviction is of the third or fourth degree, where the court finds that expungement is consistent with the public interest, giving due consideration to the nature of the offense and the petitioner’s character and conduct since conviction.
Thus, pursuant to this statute, the New Jersey expungement attorneys at the Law Office of Randolph H. Wolf argued that the client’s expungement was in the “public interest.” In doing so, we first pointed out that it had been 21 years since the client had completed his sentence. Courts may take into account the number of offense-free years since conviction because;
“As the number of offense-free years after conviction increase, the risk of re-offending drops.” Ibid. (citing to Megan C. Kurlycheck, et al., Scarlet Letters and Recidivism: Does an Old Criminal Record Predict Future Offending? 5 Criminology & Public Policy 3, 489 (2006).
Thus, “this fact would generally tend to support petitions made closer to the ten-year mark than the five-year mark.” Ibid.
We next pointed out that the nature of the offense also weighed in favor of expungement. With respect to this factor, we noted that there was no indication that weapons or violence was involved in the commission of the offense. Nor was there any evidence that the client had distributed drugs to children or in the past.
We further pointed out that, since the client’s arrest, he has changed immensely. Since his conviction he has lead an exemplary life and has had no other arrests. He subsequently enrolled in college, where he received two Associates degrees. He also completed a job training program, where he received his Licensed Practical Nurse Certificate.
We also pointed out that the client continues to maintain family and community ties that promote law-abiding behavior. We highlighted the volunteer work that the client had performed when he collected donations and food to feed the less fortunate. He also volunteered to collect money for Christmas gifts for children.
Clients often ask whether it is possible to be released early from probation. New Jersey law does give judges the authority to release defendants from probation early. Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:45-2, the court, on application of a probation officer or of the defendant, or on its own motion may discharge a defendant from probation at any time.
Just recently, the expungement attorneys at the Law Office of Randolph H. Wolf represented a client in successfully obtaining an “early pathway” conviction of her felony conviction for unlawful possession of a weapon in Ocean County, New Jersey. The client was arrested in 2006 at the age of 20 and charged with being in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-3B, terroristic threats; N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5D, unlawful possession of weapon; and N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4D, weapon possession unlawful purpose. She appeared in the Ocean County Superior Court in 2007, where she plead guilty to N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5D (weapon possession unlawful purpose) and was sentenced to a one-year term of probation, which the client completed in November of 2008.
Early Pathway Expungements for Disorderly Persons or Petty Disorderly Persons Convictions Under N.J.S.A. 2C:52-3
You must generally wait 5 years to expunge a conviction for a disorderly persons offense (or misdemeanor) or a petty disorderly persons offense. Effective April 18, 2016, however, the expungement statute was amended to provide for an “early pathway” disorderly persons expungement. Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:52-3, you can apply for expungement of a disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offense after only 3 years – so long as certain conditions are met. The “early pathway” expungement is complex and requires compliance with many conditions as well as a court appearance. As such, it is best to consult with an attorney if you are seeking an early expungement.
Ordinarily, a person convicted of a disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offense in New Jersey must wait 5 years from the date of their conviction, payment of fine, or satisfactory completion of probation, whichever is later, in order to seek an expungement. Under the new law, however, the expungement statute was amended to allow certain convicted persons to have their records expunged after a period of only 3 years had elapsed.
In order to be eligible for a so-called “early expungement,” the individual must establish that granting such an expungement would be in the public interest. In determining whether or not an early expungement would be in the public interest, courts can consider numerous factors, including: the circumstances surrounding the offense, the applicant’s character and conduct before and/or after conviction, evidence that the conviction has impeded efforts to resume a law-abiding life, the nature of the offense, whether the applicant has engaged in activities that would limit the risk of re-offending (such as whether the applicant has received job education and training and maintained family and community ties that promote law-abiding behavior), the number of years that has passed since the conviction, and the applicant’s performance while incarcerated or while on probation.
The Law Office of Randolph H. Wolf has helped many individuals apply for and receive an early expungement under the 2010 amendments to the expungement statute, which provided for early expungements of felony convictions after only 5 years (normal waiting time is 10 years). When applying for early expungements, our firms will focus on the positive factors that weigh in favor of an early expungement in your case. Some of those factors might include your age at the time of the offense, the nature of the offense, your job education and training since your conviction, your educational background, your criminal history in general, and whether the conviction has prevented you from doing something you would otherwise be able to do, such as getting a job, progressing in your career, coaching, or renting an apartment.
If you or someone you know would like to apply for an early expungement, contact the attorneys at the Law Office of Randolph H. Wolf today for a free consultation. Our attorneys will first determine whether or not you are eligible for an early expungement. If so, we will then prepare a brief on your behalf, focusing on how an early expungement in your specific case would be in the public interest. Contact us today at (732) 741-4448.
New Law Allows for the Expungement of All Criminal Records For Individuals Who Successfully Completed Drug Court
Several counties in New Jersey have implemented a Drug Court program. In Drug Court, the State and criminal defense attorneys work together to help non-violent drug offenders, who are often addicts, by rehabilitating them, as opposed to incarcerating them or imposing other harsh sentences. The theory is that, without appropriate treatment, these individuals are bound to come into contact with the criminal justice system again. Thus, rather than incarcerating this individuals, which does little to rehabilitate them (and often, in fact, results in making their drug addiction worse), the Drug Court program seeks to attack the problem at its source by offering counseling and drug and alcohol rehabilitation services to these individuals, in lieu of incarceration, in the hopes that these individuals will recover and not have any further contact with the criminal justice system.
New Jersey’s law governing drug court is codified at N.J.S.A. 2C:35-14. Drug Court usually requires the offender to be: (1) employed; and (2) under an intense period of supervised probation, which requires random drug testing and court appearances. The court can also impose any counseling or drug rehabilitation programs deemed beneficial.
Often times, individuals enrolling in New Jersey’s Drug Court program have extensive criminal backgrounds that were, for the most part, due to their drug or alcohol addictions. These convictions could include not only drug convictions, but also convictions for other offenses such as theft, robbery, assault, burglary, etc. Prior to April of 2016, however, most drug court graduates were barred from being eligible to expunge their criminal records after completion of the drug court program, due to the nature of New Jersey’s expungement law, which places limits of the amount and type of offenses that are eligible for expungement.
As of April 18, 2016, however, expungement law in New Jersey changed drastically for those individuals who have successfully completed Drug Court. According to N.J.S.A. 2C:35-14(m), those individuals who successfully complete drug court are eligible for expungement of all prior arrests, detentions, convictions, and/or proceedings for any criminal offense under Title 2C. To be eligible for this broad expungement relief, the individual must meet the following three requirements:
1.They must have satisfactorily completed Drug Court;
2.They must not have been convicted of any crimes, disorderly person, or petty disorderly persons offenses during their term of Drug Court; and
3.They must not have been convicted of an offense that is barred from expungement pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:52-2(b) (many of which are violent crimes).
The procedure for applying for a Drug Court expungement pursuant to this section will vary depending on whether you completed Drug Court before or after the law’s effective date of April 18, 2016. For those who successfully complete Drug Court after that date, the expungement process is somewhat automatic. After being discharged from Drug Court, the court will provide you with a copy of a Drug Court expungement order, which you must promptly distribute to the appropriate agencies who have control and custody of the records specified in the order.
If you have completed drug court and been granted an expungement pursuant to this section, then it is imperative that you stay out of trouble. This is because if you are subsequently convicted of a crime (or felony) following discharge, then the full record of arrests and convictions may be restored to public access and you will be forever barred from obtaining an expungement in the future.
For those individuals who graduated from Drug Court prior to April 18, 2016, you may apply for relief pursuant to this section by filing an expungement petition in the Superior Court in the county where you completed drug court. So long as you meet the requirements listed above, and you have not been convicted of any crime (felony) or other offense since the date of discharge from Drug Court, then you are likewise eligible for expungement of all prior arrests, detentions, convictions, and/or proceedings for any criminal offense under Title 2C pursuant to this section.
If you successfully graduated from Drug Court in New Jersey and have questions regarding the consequences that this new law has on your criminal history, contact the attorneys at the Law Office of Randolph H. Wolf today for a free consultation at (732) 741-4448.