Do you have a conviction for criminal charges on your record after a prior arrest for a crime committed in New Jersey? If so, you are certainly not the first person in the state with a criminal record. If you have run into problems trying to get your life back on track due to your record, you are not alone. Many others have shared stories about the troubles they've faced when attempting to reintegrate back into society after spending time behind bars and serving probation.
The court is always of the opinion that community and government programs should provide help to those who have served their sentences reach their full potentials as they move toward successful and happy futures. Once you've fulfilled your sentence, you should be able to get a job, rent an apartment, go to college or do anything appropriate to help you accomplish new goals in life.
Unfortunately, there is often a certain stigma attached to having a criminal record. The following are common problems others in your situation have encountered:
- Difficulty getting approval to rent an apartment or home
- Trouble attaining gainful employment
- Being rejected on college applications
- Being subject to community gossip and rumors
Let's say you read about a great job opportunity in your local newspaper and decided to apply for the position. Everything is going fine until your prospective new employer decides to run a background check. All the sudden, you are no longer being considered as a candidate for the position, and you suspect it has everything to do with your record. If you've experienced similar prejudice, you understand how tough it can be to become a contributing member of your community after serving time in prison.
So, what can you do about it?
Although state laws vary, many provide means for starting over with a clean slate after you've completed your sentence. Known as, "expungement," regulations and eligibility requirements differ from state to state, but generally speaking, it conceals your criminal record so the general public no longer has access to it. It typically works as follows:
- Petition filed in court
- Reasons for request stated
- Reviewed by judge
- Favor granted or request denied
A basic advantage of receiving an expungement of your record is that your past arrest and conviction will no longer impede your ability to earn an income, further your education or move to a new apartment. It also prevents anyone doing an online criminal background search from viewing your conviction. Law enforcement agents and any prosecutors associated with subsequent charges filed after an expungement would, however, still be able to view your past record.
Some say you should never allow your past to define you. That said, it logically follows that neither should your future success be limited by something that happened in the past. An experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney would be able to explain more about expungement and clarify the particular laws that govern such matters in this state. By starting out with a new, clean slate, anyone who has already completed a sentence after conviction can increase the chances of embarking on a new, successful journey in life.