Mental Health Record Expungements
Fees and Payment Arrangements
Fee Overview: Four ComponentsThe fee that Expungement Lawyers in New Jersey™ charges to seek expungement of mental health records has four components. Components one and two will always be required. Component three will usually be required. Component four will seldom be required. These components are the case processing fee; out-of-pocket expenses, a travel fee, and “special costs.” Here are the details:
Component One: Case Processing FeeThe case processing legal fee is $3,500.00. This fee covers all office work normally associated with seeking expungement of mental health records. It includes our initial conference or conferences; conferences with other persons connected with the case; correspondence with the court or other agencies; and preparation and filing of court documents. Basic processing also covers however many court appearances may be needed including, of course, office preparation for those appearances. Travel expenses associated with court appearances are additional. Those travel expenses are itemized separately, as indicated below. Basic processing does not cover appeals that you may choose to take from any adverse decisions. Nor does it cover appeals that may be taken by any other party from decisions that are favorable to us.
Component Two: Out-of-Pocket ExpensesOut-of-pocket expenses will always include court fees. The court fee is normally $300.00. This consists of a filing fee of $250.00, plus an “Order To Show Cause” fee of $50.00. In rare instances, this may be the only out-of-pocket expense required. Therefore the minimum cost that can be required will normally be the $3,500.00 case processing fee, plus $300.00 court fee, for a total of $3,800.00.
Twice we have just used the word “normally”. In some counties, filing an expungement “Petition” instead of an expungement “Complaint,” will lower the entire court fee just $50.00. When the court fee is the smaller amount, Expungement Lawyers in New Jersey™ pass the savings on to you.
Out-of-pocket expenses may also include fees for obtaining necessary documents, typically medical records. Medical evaluations are typically needed. It will usually be necessary to obtain a criminal history from the FBI. These out-of-pocket expenses are your responsibility. You will either advance those expenses to us, or make arrangements with the facility involved to pay them directly. In the unlikely event a mental health professional or other expert witness must actually testify, associated expenses would be handled in the same manner.
We will not “nickel and dime you” on routine office expenses like incidental xeroxing or postage. Occasionally, however, xeroxing and postage can become significant. An example of this might be xeroxing of voluminous medical records for multiple recipients, or certified mailing costs for serving voluminous documents on those recipients. Those are examples of expenses we could pass on to you.
Component Three: Travel FeeExpungement Lawyers in New Jersey™ respond to client needs in all twenty-one counties. Variations in distance and travel time are reflected in travel fees for court appearances. The amount of these fees is determined by the “Region” in which each county is located. Sometimes a personal court appearance may not be needed. That is especially true with remote processing occasioned by the pandemic. Where personal apearance is not needed, any travel costs previously advanced are returned. In other instances, for whatever reason, more than one court appearance may be needed. Should that happen, each trip after the first will incur an additional travel fee that is sixty-five percent of the original travel fee.
New Jersey has five Regions. Here are the counties, and the Regions that correspond to each:
And here are the travel fees, by Region:
Component Four: “Special Costs”Special costs relate to work over and above work normally needed to pursue expungement of mental health records. These special costs most often arise from needs relating to the client. Pursuing firearms-related authorizations would be one example of special costs. Another example would be responding to client requests to research the law of States other than New Jersey. Also, the fees indicated above presuppose client's full cooperation. Non-cooperation by client can cause assessment of additional fees. Examples of non-cooperation are refusal of client to either provide or sign releases for pertinent records; or failure to appear in court if an appearance by the client becomes required. These examples are merely illustrative. They are not a complete list. Regardless, “Special Costs” are the exception and not the rule. In the vast majority of cases, the amount of “Special Costs” will be zero.
Payment ArrangementsExpungement of mental health records takes place in three steps. Step One requires a $1,000.00 retainer. This gets us under way. It covers all preliminary conferences, both with you and with other persons connected with the case. It covers work needed (if any) in obtaining medical records. As indicated above, costs for the records themselves are your responsibility. Thus you would obtain those records on your own (unless you already have them), or advance any needed costs.
When record- and information gathering is complete, Expungement Lawyers in New Jersey™ review everything gathered to that point. They assess likelihood of objections to the application. They assess likelihood of eventual success. They share the results of their assessments with you. You then decide to continue or not continue. If you decide to stop at that point, no further fees become payable. Once you make your decision, Step One is complete.
If you decide to continue, Step Two begins. An additional $1,750.00 becomes payable at that time. In Step Two, materials and information accumulated in Step One are used to prepare documents for the court. Two court documents in particular will require intense attention. Those documents are a verified petition for expungement of mental health records, and a supporting affidavit. Those documents will incorporate information and materials collected in step one. The supporting affidavit will use the previously collected documents as exhibits. Upon completion, Expungement Lawyers in New Jersey™ review those documents with you. They make all changes or corrections that might be needed. Once you approve the documents, Step Two is complete.
Step Three is everything else (excluding appeals and special costs). At the beginning of Step Three, the remainder of the case processing fee, plus the filing fee, travel costs, and any other unreimbursed expenses, become payable. In Step Three, the papers prepared in Step Two are filed. (If Expungement Lawyers in New Jersey™ is able to obtain the lower filing fee, discussed above, the difference is returned to the client when filing is confirmed.) The court sets a hearing date. Expungement Lawyers in New Jersey™ tells you when that hearing date will be. They attend the hearing and move the application. They do all follow up work that may be needed. Examples of this follow up work may include making revisions that the judge may want to the papers previously submitted; or supplementing the application with additional records the judge may want. It may include additional trips to court if, for some reason, the hearing does not conclude on the first appearance. Finally, it includes serving the final order for expungement of mental health records upon the appropriate facilities, and verifying receipt by those facilities.
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