Criminal Convictions Have Lasting Impacts on Your Life
A criminal conviction on your record has a long-lasting effect on a person’s life. The immediate consequences are clear. People may have to obtain counsel to help them navigate criminal proceedings. They may have to prepare for trial or plead. This may result in a conviction, jail time, and fines. Once that criminal process is over, the sentence is served, and fines paid, the conviction still affects a person’s life. Below we discuss some ramifications of a conviction in New Jersey.
One of the most common areas where a conviction lingers is in employability. Even when a person has a job, if they are convicted of a crime, they risk losing it. If a person isn’t employed and is looking for employment, they must also disclose the conviction. Since most places of employment require background checks, the conviction will come up. In certain circumstances, the conviction can prevent a person from getting a job. While the prospective or current employee has legal rights regarding how the conviction is used in an employment decision, it is an extra hurdle that a convicted person must navigate. Depending on the conviction, the person can also be excluded from certain professions. For example, licensed or certified professionals risk disciplinary actions and even the loss of their license for certain convictions.
Another area where a conviction can have an immediate effect is in the area of immigration enforcement. Even after a person serves their sentence and pays fines, they may have to answer immigration charges. That’s because certain convictions render a person inadmissible in the United States and potentially deportable. This can be more stressful than the criminal process because the consequences include deportation. Immigration consequences following a criminal conviction affect non-citizens and lawful permanent residents.
Retirement and Pension Benefits
New Jersey law explicitly precludes public employees from receiving their pensions when convicted of certain crimes. New Jersey state and local employees, including teachers, are at risk of having a conviction sever their privilege to collect their state pensions.
Convictions and Family Matters
If a person is convicted and sentenced to at least 18 months in jail, their spouse can proceed with a divorce based on an “at-fault” ground. A conviction doesn’t just affect a person’s marital status but also their parenting time. A conviction has the potential to alter a parent’s parenting time, resulting in supervised visitation or loss of parenting time altogether.
Right to Vote
While every American has the right to vote, each state can impose limitations on those voting rights. In New Jersey, individuals who are incarcerated cannot vote during elections. When a person is released from prison for a felony conviction, they may not be able to participate in elections until all the provisions of their sentence are completed. This includes jail time, counseling or other court-ordered programs, and even parole.
How can a Criminal Defense Lawyer Assist Prior to a Conviction?
The best time to enlist the help of a criminal defense attorney is when you are charged with a crime. Having an experienced lawyer can help you understand the implications of a conviction. While the prosecutor may offer an attractive plea deal that carries no jail time, the particular offense you plead guilty to can significantly affect your life for more than a few days in jail. It’s essential to approach any conviction with the question – what will be the collateral consequences? An attorney can guide you through that process and work tirelessly to get your charges dismissed or reduced to the lowest possible level with the least impact on the rest of your life.
Alternatives for Expungement Following a Conviction
New Jersey offers expungements for certain arrests and convictions. When a record is expunged, it seals the arrest and related documents from the public eye. That means that if an employer requires a background check, an expunged record will not appear. Nor will you be required to disclose such an arrest. It’s as if the arrest and conviction never happened.
Not every conviction in New Jersey will qualify for expungement. In fact, NJ has listed specific convictions that will not be eligible, such as arson, perjury, and murder, to name a few. Expungement is not automatically done. You must file a petition with the court, submit specific documentation, and ensure that every step in the process is completed correctly. Enlisting the help of a qualified attorney can help with the entirety of the process to ensure that your expungement successfully goes through.
A knowledgeable expungement lawyer can ensure that everything in your petition is correctly completed to seamlessly remove certain convictions from your record and help you move on with your life. However, a person must wait to have a record expunged in many cases. The wait time will vary according to the committed crime or crimes and how the case was resolved in court. For instance, an arrest and charge resolved through the Pre-Trial Intervention Program entails a shorter wait time than a felony conviction resulting a prison sentence.
Contacting a Lawyer is Crucial for Defense or Expungement in New Jersey
An experienced criminal attorney in New Jersey can help you navigate past the consequences of a criminal conviction to help you get back to the life you had. With very specific requirements and procedures, handling an expungement or defense against criminal charges is the last thing you want to DIY. Contact our tested and trusted criminal defense lawyers today for immediate assistance and a complimentary consultation. We serve clients in Rockaway, Florham Park, Parsippany, Morristown, Roxbury, Mount Olive, Dover, and other towns in Morris County and across New Jersey. Please call 973-524-7238 or send us a message to talk to an attorney as soon as possible.