Interviewer: What would you say is the most difficult aspect of the expungement process?
Lauren Scardella: The most difficult is the fact that we have to do so many certified mailings and you have to wait for the green cards from the certified mailings to come back. Then, you have to send something else out within five days of receiving the last of the cards. We have to be very organized and make sure that we know when things are supposed to come back and when they need to go back out again. Those are all just organizational things. Sometimes, there is difficulty with getting all of the old records because people don’t remember exactly when or where an arrest occurred, and lawyers in New Jersey don’t have access to criminal records.
Expungement As a Means to Being Gainfully Employed Without the Stigma of a Criminal Record
Interviewer: What about a situation in which an individual is waiting for an expungement to take effect prior to getting employed?
Lauren Scardella: It’s difficult for people if they’re waiting to apply for a job. We’ve had college students who want to become teachers that don’t want to go through the background check process for student teaching with something still on their record. That’s where really planning ahead and thinking ahead and thinking “I want to have this done,” by a certain date and not waiting till the last minute to say “I need an expungement because I have to apply for my student teaching position in 30 days.” It’s not going to be done in 30 days. That’s a 100% guarantee.
It is Advisable to Prepare in Advance When Contemplating Getting an Expungement
A lot of times, I’ll tell people “You’re not eligible until such and such a date. So, since it’s about a four month process, we can speed it up a little bit by you calling us back maybe a month before you’re eligible. We’ll start to gather the documents and get everything ready to be filed on the date that you become eligible for the expungement.” It doesn’t actually speed up the process on our end but it speeds up the process on the court’s end because we really file at the moment that they’re actually eligible.
If a Client Provides All the Required Information During Initial Consultation, an Attorney Can Inform them Whether They’re Eligible for Expungement or Not
Interviewer: How long would that take to know if I’m eligible?
Lauren Scardella: It depends on whether or not you have all the information that is needed upfront. If you know exactly what you were convicted of or what you were charged with and that it was dismissed. If you also know the dates that you were convicted and your one year probation or parole ended I can tell you right over the phone when you’re going to be eligible. If you don’t have all of that information, then we have to do a little digging with the courts in trying to find out. Then it’s going to take a little bit longer.
Typically Expungement is Not a Well Known Process in New Jersey
Interviewer: Have you ever had the clients that didn’t know that they could get something expunged that you say “Hey look, this is what I found?”
Lauren Scardella: We always tell our current clients when they’re going to be eligible for an expungement or conversely if they’re being charged or they’ve been convicted of something that’s not eligible. Usually people start to think about it, they may do a little bit of internet research and then give us the call and try to find out if they are eligible. There is enough awareness that there is something called an expungement, whether it’s from other people they know or their own curiosity, by the time they get to us, they have some idea that this is something they can do.