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Most Expungement applications proceed smoothly. Although expungement applications require great attention to detail, processing, more often than not, is uneventful. Some expungement applications, however, encounter rough sailing. This rough sailing can arise from a variety of reasons, as we explain on this page.
N.J.S. 2C:52-24 requires the county prosecutor in the county where expungement is sought to verify the accuracy of the information in the applicant's expungement petition. A second responsibility is for the prosecutor to determine any actual or possible legal bars to expungement. N.J.S. 2C:52-24 requires the prosecutor to advise the court of its findings.
As indicated elsewhere, New Jersey expungement law contains many ambiguities. When an expungement application rises or falls upon how those ambiguities are resolved, prosecutors typically interpret those ambiguities against the applicant, and object. Their objections, however, do not end the matter. Quite the contrary, those objections are where things begin to get interesting.
We should mention at the outset that prosecutorial objections are sometimes valid. When the objection is one that is valid, the applicant must respond appropriately. “Appropriately” may mean correcting the deficiency, if the deficiency is one that can be corrected. It may also mean withdrawing the application if the deficiency is one that cannot be corrected.
When the prosecutor objects for invalid reasons, or on account of interpreting an ambiguity adversely to the applicant, the applicant has several options. Sometimes satisfying the prosecutor will entail nothing more than changing wording on the expungement papers and resubmitting them. While most prosecutorial objections arise from legitimate ambiguities, some prosecutorial objections are based upon nothing more than prosecutorial arrogance. It is with great glee that these objecting prosecutors present hoops through which applicants, or their lawyers, must jump. One county in particular is notorious for such objections.
Expungement Lawyers in New Jersey™ are willing and able to fight these outrageous objections. Were they to wage such fights, they are confident they would ultimately prevail. Unfortunately, such fights have two costs. The first cost is monetary. Economic realities would force Expungement Lawyers in New Jersey™ to charge clients for the time and effort and angst involved. These costs could be large. Few clients have the ability or the desire to incur such expenses.
The second cost is delay. Most persons who seek expungement do so on account of a specific need. Even when applications proceed smoothly, the entire process takes many months. Fighting the prosecutor in court can add many more months. Clients seldom have the patience or the ability to endure such delay. So applicants and their lawyers jump through these hoops, that being the path of least resistance.
Occasionally, however, prosecutors' interpretation of the expungement statutes cause them to contend that the applicant is flat out ineligible for the expungement. More often than not (although certainly not always), these prosecutors are sincere in their interpretations of the statute. Prosecutorial sincerity or not, applicants' options are more limited. Unless able to persuade these prosecutors to change their position (and Expungement Lawyers in New Jersey™ do sometimes accomplish that), only two options remain. These two remaining options are to fight the prosecutor in court, or withdraw the application.
Expungement Lawyers in New Jersey™ are not afraid to take on the prosecutor. However, they choose their battles carefully. For that reason, more often than not, they prevail. Sometimes they obtain victory from the judge at the county level. On other occasions, they have to go through an appeal in order to finally obtain the relief that their clients deserve. Some of the issues on which Expungement Lawyers in New Jersey™ prevailed, with related materials, are listed below. (In all cases, to protect client anonymity, we identify clients only by initials, or use pseudonyms.)
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- Existence of cases pending cases before the Department of Homeland Securtity does not constitute grounds to deny an expungement.
- Convictions for conspiracy to distribute controlled dangerous substances can be expunged.
- Convictions for violating a municipal ordinance and an unrelated crime can both be expunged, and in a single consolidated proceeding.
- Expungement may be possible despite inability to obtain information required by statute to be included in an expungement petition.
- Juvenile adjudications present no bar to expungement of adult convictions.
- The prosecutor does not get to dictate the county in which an expungement application is to be filed, so long as venue requirements are satisfied.
- Judges granting expungement of records of mental health commitments cannot carve out a limitation that denies restoration of gun privileges.
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