Early Termination of Probation in New Jersey

April 8, 2016 · Posted in Blog, Criminal Law Blog 

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.
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New Law for Drug Court Expungements

March 11, 2016 · Posted in Blog, Criminal Law Blog, Expungement Blog 

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.

Appealing the Denial of a TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry Program Application Due to a Disqualifying Criminal History

January 16, 2016 · Posted in Blog, Criminal Law Blog 

According to the Transportation Security Administration (“TSA”) 3 to 5 percent of the roughly 30,000 monthly applicants that apply for the Pre-Check or Global Entry programs are rejected for various reasons. Many times these applicants are rejected due to inaccurate or faulty information that surfaces during criminal background checks. For example, pursuant to TSA’s policies, they do not consider you to have been convicted of an offense, and will therefore not use such an offense against you, if your finding of guilt was overturned on appeal, fully pardoned, or expunged. Nonetheless, the TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry Appeal lawyers at the Law Office of Randolph H. Wolf have noticed that some applicants have been wrongfully rejected as a result of convictions that have been overturned on appeal, pardoned, or expunged. Read More »

Sentence Reductions for Federal Drug Crimes

July 29, 2014 · Posted in Blog, Criminal Law Blog 
I am a Federal Prisoner Convicted of a Drug Crime.  Can I Apply to Have my Sentence Reduced?
On July 18, 2014, the U.S. Sentencing Commission unanimously decided to make retroactive an earlier change that lowered the offense levels for drug crimes by two levels.  What this translates to is that roughly 50,000 drug offenders in federal prison will be eligible to have their cases reviewed by a judge for a sentence reduction.  As a result, the Federal Bureau of Prisons has stated that it will immediately begin to notify inmates of their eligibility to apply for a sentence reduction.
The decision came after a study found that inmates convicted of non-violent drug offenses who were released early from prison posed no greater risk of committing another crime as compared to those who served full terms.  Advocates note that the decision will assist in reversing decades of tough policies dated back to the 1970s, including the controversial mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders.  Proponents also point out that the changes will ease the problem of overcrowding in the prison system and reduce costs.  Read More »

New Jersey Appellate Division Holds that “Crime Spree” Conviction Is Ineligible for Expungement

June 10, 2014 · Posted in Blog, Criminal Law Blog, Expungement Blog 

In order to expungement a felony conviction in New Jersey, an individual must not have been convicted of any “prior or subsequent crimes.” What this means, in effect, is that a person cannot expunge a felony conviction if they have more than one felony conviction on their record. While it is clear that individuals who have been convicted and/or sentenced for multiple felonies on multiple dates are not eligible for an expungement, questions remain. For example, what about individuals who have multiple felony convictions, but were sentenced on the same date? Similarly, what about individuals who have been convicted for felonies that occurred within a relatively close of time to each other (often referred to as a “crime spree”). Read More »

New Jersey Criminalizes Cyber-Harassment

June 1, 2014 · Posted in Blog, Criminal Law Blog 

In response to the increase in the number of teenagers that have committed suffering as a result of online harassment and bullying, several states have passed laws criminalizing cyber-harassment, cyber-bullying, and cyber-stalking. New Jersey has long advocated for anti-bullying and anti-harassment laws. Just recently, in fact, New Jersey passed the State’s first law that criminalizes cyber-harassment to address this increasing problem. The new law passed both houses of the New Jersey legislature unanimously and, on January 21, 2014, was signed into law by Chris Christie. Read More »

Randolph H. Wolf Argues Successful Motion to Change Sentence in Municipal Court

May 21, 2014 · Posted in Blog, Criminal Law Blog, Municipal Law Blog 

Reduced Client’s Driver’s License Suspension Time by Two Years

Randolph H. Wolf recently represented a client who, from 1988 through 1998, received various motor vehicle violations in New Jersey, which resulted in numerous orders of suspension.  Those violations included  DWI convictions in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50 as well as several convictions for driving while suspended in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-40.  During sentencing, the courts ran the suspension periods for each conviction consecutively (or back-to-back), rather than concurrently (or at the time same time).  Read More »

The Right to a Speedy Trial in New Jersey: Legal Groups Pushing for Set Time Limits

February 18, 2014 · Posted in Blog, Criminal Law Blog 

It is frequently stated that the millstones of justice turn exceedingly slow.  Moreover, in New Jersey, unlike most other jurisdictions (including the federal government), there is no fixed time limit on when criminal cases must be brought to trial.  Recently, however, New Jersey legal groups have begun pushing for such time limits.  The New Jersey Office of the Public Defender, through a committee headed by Chief Justice Stuart Rabner, as well as the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, have proposed setting time limits.  Read More »

An Overview of New Jersey’s Graves Act

November 4, 2013 · Posted in Blog, Criminal Law Blog 

Pursuant to the N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6(c) (also known as the “Graves Act”), there are mandatory terms of incarceration and ineligibility for parole for those convicted of specific firearms-related crimes.  Prior to 2008, the act applied only to individual convicted of possession of a firearm for an unlawful purpose or to an individual convicted of possession of a firearm during the commission of certain crimes.  The statute was broadened, however, effective January 13, 2008.  The following offenses committed on or after that date are also included in the Graves Act: Read More »

The Random Drug Testing Controversy in New Jersey High Schools

October 28, 2013 · Posted in Blog, Criminal Law Blog 

In response to reports revealing a high incident of alcohol and drug abuse by New Jersey high school students, numerous high schools in the state have already put into place or are in the process of putting into place random drug testing protocols for students.  Many school districts endorse these policies to screen students for alcohol use, especially as a condition of participating in events such as prom or extracurricular activities, such as sports or choir.

Pursuant to these protocols, students are randomly chosen for testing, which usually requires that they submit to a urine sample.  If the testing comes back positive, the consequences vary by school district, but the student is usually referred for counseling and extracurricular activities are revoked.  Students that repeatedly test positive for drugs may be suspended, required to enter into drug abuse treatment, and prove that they are clean before returning to school.  Read More »

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