Category Archives: expungement

Will my Charge Appear on My Criminal Record?

This is always one of the first questions people have and rightfully so. Having a conviction appear on your criminal history can create huge issues for employment, travel, and immigration (just to name a few).

The answer will depend on the charge and whether or not you are convicted. Let’s walk through it.

In New Jersey, there are motor vehicle offenses under Title 39, Disorderly Persons Offenses under Title 2C and indicatable offenses under Title 2C. There are also Municipal Ordinance Offenses that are enacted by each municipality/city. Ordinance violations are not under the State code (not Title 39 or Title 2C).

Title 39 offenses appear on your driving record/abstract. Not on your criminal record. This includes DWI and Possession of CDS in a Motor Vehicle. You can’t remove items from your driving record. They stay forever. This is different than criminal.

Title 2C convictions appear on your criminal record or CCH. A charge or being charged is not the same as being convicted. Only convictions appear on a CCH (some refer to it as a RAP sheet). If you are not convicted, meaning you were not found guilty or pleaded guilty, then you don’t have a record, but there are some exceptions.

Pre-trial intervention and Conditional Discharge programs do not result in conviction. Nonetheless, you will have a record that your completed the program. You can remove this record through a process called expungement six months after you complete the program.

Additionally, anytime you are arrested or charged under Title 2C, there is a record of that charge, even if it is subsequently dismissed. However, you can expunge a record of the arrest/charge immediately upon dismissal.

Municipal Ordinances, although low level violations, may still appear on your record. Maybe you were issued one of these when you and your friends rented that shore house and the party got a little out of hand. You can expunge these too.

There is a waiting period for expungement. You must wait five year to expunge a disorderly persons offense, 5-10 years for an indictable, and 2 years for an ordinance. The clock does not start to run until the fines are paid, the probation is completed or the jail time has been served (whichever date is latest)

It is clear that the information highway opens our closets up like never before. In this day and age you should assume that any trouble you have or had will follow you and be seen by the outside world.

If you find yourself in a situation, big or small, it is smart to figure out how it may affect you in the future by seeking legal counsel.

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Is DWI a Felony in New Jersey?

DWI is not a Crime in New Jersey, But is Treated like One

Many people think that DWI is a crime in New Jersey. However, a violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50 is a violation of the traffic code. I should note parenthetically that New Jersey does not have felonies. We categorize our offenses as indictable offenses and disorderly persons offenses.

Regardless, the distinction between the criminal and traffic code when it comes to a conviction for DWI or DUI in New Jersey is tough to make. This is because the penalties in New Jersey for a first, second, third or subsequent DWI are analogous to those one would face who was convicted for a crime. Case law examining this issue has even called DWI a “quasi-criminal” offense, recognizing that the penalties are arguably more severe than those one would face in the overwhelming majority of criminal proceedings.

The difference is that a conviction for DWI does not appear on your criminal record, only your driver abstract. The distinction here is once again minimal in my opinion because a subsequent offense will expose you to enhanced penalties including jail time and longer loss of license. The enhanced penalties you face are once again worse than one could face as a repeat criminal offender in many instances.

Furthermore, a DWI on your driver’s abstract could have the same effect that a criminal conviction on your rap sheet would. Most employers now request an abstract and could use this as a reason not to hire someone.

In addition, some state licensing boards can use a conviction for DWI as a basis to revoke your license to perform your job.

DWI Charges Can’t be Erased, Removed, or Expunged from Record

Once again, in a criminal case, you could eventually make an expungement application down the road if you qualify. No such relief is afforded to the DWI defendant. In fact, you can never remove a DWI from your record. The only relief you get is this. If ten years has passed since the time of your last offense, you will receive the benefit of the ten-year step down law. In most instances, you can only use that once.

New Jersey DWI Lawyers are not all the Same

Take some time to research your DWI attorneys and you will quickly see that they are not all created equal. The qualification necessary for affective  DWI advocacy are different from an ordinary case.