Five Things to Know About Getting an Expungement in NJ

April 6th, 2016

 

Everybody goes through a tough time at one point or other, and sometimes our actions can result in harsh consequences. Those who are faced with criminal charges on their record may find that building a new life can prove difficult. When a record shows that there are criminal charges, it makes certain life necessities nearly impossible, such as getting a job, obtaining a mortgage, buying a car, taking out a loan, renting, and investing in a business. However, the circumstance can be reversed by obtaining an expungement. An expungement is the isolation and/or extraction of records regarding one’s criminal history. If you are interested in getting an expungement to clear your record, here are five things you should know about the process.

 

  1. 1.      You can Legally Say You Have Never Been Arrested if the Conviction is expunged.

Criminal record expungements in Gloucester County, NJ and the surrounding regions will eliminate civil disabilities put into effect as a consequence of your conviction or arrest. Once the record is cleared, you are legally allowed to claim under oath that you have never been arrested.

 

  1. 2.      Notify Private Database Companies about Your Expunged Record in Order to Have it Removed from Their Systems.

Even though the expungement will remove your record from the federal and state databases, it still lingers in the databases of private companies. To make sure that the data companies do not provide outdated information to employers and other entities, you must provide them with your expungement. Once you notify them of your sealed record, they are required to comply with the Judge’s Order in removing the outdated record.

 

  1. 3.      You Can Apply for an Expungement only if you are Eligible to do so.

 

In the state of NJ, there are several judicial and statutory grounds for denying an expungement. It is important to work with an experienced lawyer or perform extensive research to determine if you are eligible. Some situations that are considered to have ineligibility include if the crime was serious, having more than the number of allowable convictions, the case is still open, unpaid fines, and more.

 

  1. 4.     
    The Expungement Process Takes about 3 to 4 Months to Complete After Your Petition Has Been Filed.

The length of the expungement process is as follows: 1 – 4 weeks to file a petition with accompanying documents; 2 – 3 weeks to serve the filed copy of the petition to all applicable state and local government agencies; 4 – 5 weeks to provide Proof of Notice to the County Prosecutor’s Office and the County Criminal Case Management and obtain the County Prosecutor’s consent to move forward with the Expungement Hearing. Once the Judge executes the Order of Expungement, the Ordert must be served on all applicable state and local government agencies for compliance. It then takes 30 to 60 days for the agencies to update their records.

 

  1. 5.      The Purpose of an Expungement is to Provide Someone the Chance to Move Forward and Not be Burdened by Their Past Mistakes.

Concealing criminal records from view helps people who want to move on from their past and have access to new opportunities.

 

Getting an expungement may seem like a lengthy process but can be worth it in the long run. With an experienced expungement lawyer near Camden County, NJ, helping you with the expungement process, you can be at ease in knowing you are in good hands. If you are looking to have your record cleared so you can get your life back in order, contact me today for a consultation.

When Should You Hire a Lawyer to Fight Your Traffic Ticket?

March 14th, 2016

Have you been issued a ticket for a traffic violation recently? If so, you may be wondering whether it is beneficial for you to hire a lawyer or not. Depending on the severity of the charge, gaining professional legal representation may be worthwhile. A traffic offense can result in points on the license, license revoked, jail time, and expensive fines. And don’t forget about the insurance company – a traffic violation can make auto insurance rates go up. It’s already nerve wracking enough when you get pulled over for not abiding by the rules, but even more so when the traffic offense issues a court appearance. But, with an experienced traffic law attorney in Burlington County, NJ, on your side, you can strategize to achieve a better outcome for the misdemeanor.

 

According to the National Motorists Association, less than 5% of people contest their ticket. The penalty for a traffic offense varies according to what kind of misdemeanor it is. If your situation is one or more of the following, hiring a lawyer is a worthy investment.

 

The traffic ticket fine is pricy. An experienced attorney can help get the fine reduced or dismissed, although some tickets may not have a fine high enough to justify hiring a lawyer. But, even so, if the tickets go unpaid, the fine becomes larger, which makes hiring an attorney a bargain.

 

You don’t understand your rights as a driver in New Jersey. A lawyer who practices traffic law will be able to help you understand your rights and provide you with a higher chance of generating a better outcome. He or she will know the best approach for battling the ticket.

 

The traffic offense put points on your license. The more points you have on your license, the closer you are it having it revoked. If the points remain on your license, you will have to always be warry of the traffic laws and be careful driving, since another violation could warrant more points, leading to your license getting taken away. A lawyer can help get the points cleared.

 

You don’t want a conviction on your record. When you pay a ticket rather than fight it, it counts as a conviction on your record, which is what can cause your insurance rate to rise. However, a lawyer can negotiate with the county traffic court or local municipal to get the conviction lifted.

 

New Jersey is one of the most difficult states to drive in due to its high population and specific traffic regulations. If you are faced with penalties for a traffic offense, give me a call today for a consultation. I will fight for your rights and create a legal approach that will generate a better outcome for your situation.

What are Your Rights at Sobriety Checkpoints?

March 14th, 2016

Sobriety checkpoints may cause a hassle for motorists trying to make it home on time to celebrate the holidays, but when it comes down to it, many a life has been saved through routine checks of driver intoxication on the days statistically linked to greater rates of drunk driving.

Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years’ are all cause for celebration, and accordingly, individuals are both more likely to drink to excess and drive further distances, both on and around the actual holidays. This is the reason for increased police presence and greater instances of sobriety checkpoints on or around these dates.

If you find yourself approaching a DUI checkpoint this holiday season, and are concerned about ensuring your rights are fully protected while being checked for signs of impairment or intoxication, take my advice – as a criminal lawyer serving Haddonfield and other areas of New Jersey, I have worked to represent hundreds of defendants in DUI and DWI cases.

What can I expect?

It is important to know what to anticipate during a DUI checkpoint, in order to understand (and possibly recall later) if police are acting in a manner consistent with your constitutional rights. One checkpoint can be very different from the next, and operations vary by state, according to what is allowed on the part of the authorities.

In the state of New Jersey, police will most likely check your tags and licenses, peer into the vehicle for any signs of intoxication, such as open containers of alcoholic beverages, and briefly assess the condition of the driver by smelling for alcohol on their breath and looking for signs of impairment.

Are police able to search my car?

Constitutional rights still apply at checkpoints, and unless police have probable cause to believe that you are under the influence, they are not permitted to forcibly search your car. While you can permit them to do so, it is not recommended, and you are not required to do so – even if the request is couched in language that makes it seem as if allowing the search will end the encounter more quickly.

You are also not required to answer any questions, or admit to breaking the law in any way when asked.

Police are legally allowed to use drug sniffing dogs during checkpoint operations, and while a positive “sniff” can serve as probable cause to search a vehicle, this is still no reason to waive one’s rights.

What steps can I take to protect myself if accused of a DUI/DWI?

It is absolutely imperative that you contact a qualified attorney as soon as possible. In general, while it is important that you cooperate with the police, you should not waive your right to remain silent; the less you say about your situation, the less can be construed as a confession. Make calling a lawyer the first action you take, in order to avoid any missteps that could destroy certain legal pathways you may otherwise have open to you after the fact.

How do Adult Criminal and Juvenile Courts Differ?

January 19th, 2016

If your child is accused of a crime, one of the first things you will want to do is acquaint yourself with the differences between the adult criminal system and that which exclusively tries children (minors younger than age 18). Understanding how these systems are designed to suit specific crimes, yet share some overlapping traits and rights can help better inform you on how to proceed in the event that your child is being prosecuted for a crime.

Differences

Despite charges that juvenile and adult courts are becoming increasingly similar (i.e., that courts are becoming harder on children, and that children are increasingly tried as adults – usually reserved for cases that are especially violent or sexual in nature), there remains many significant differences between the two.

Different terminology. To reflect some of the differences in procedure, terms unique to the juvenile court system are employed during trials and in legal files. Some differences include “Minor” in place of “Defendant”, “Adjudication” in place of “Trial”, “Delinquent act” for “crime”, and “Petition” rather than “Complaint”, amongst others.

No jury trials in juvenile court. In perhaps the biggest difference between the two systems, juveniles do not have the right to a trial by jury – instead, they will take their case to a judge or a bench officer, who will adjudicate the case in Family Court.

No right to bail. Rather than posting bail to get your child out of jail, you must wait to see if a court decides whether or not your child will be released.

Private hearings. Unlike most adult trials, hearings in Juvenile Court are closed off to the public, with the exception of offenses deemed serious and/or violent. This helps protect a minor later, if their record is expunged upon reaching age 18.

Parental/guardian questioning. Parents or guardians of a minor accused of a crime will very likely be questioned in court during a hearing, regarding their child’s behavior, home life, and other information. These responses can change the way a court handles a case, and it is wise to consult with a defense attorney prior to a hearing.

Greater opportunities for probation or diversionary programs. While theaim of adult jail is to punish, juvenile courts exist to help rehabilitate children, as well as provide them with a second chance to get their life on a productive path. Accordingly, many plans exist to keep a child out of a juvenile detention facility and, in turn, out of jail in their future; but oftentimes, it requires the skills of an experienced attorney to advocate for these alternative programs.

Similarities
There are several extremely important similarities between the two systems that every individual whose child has been accused of a crime should know. Police and investigators will not make these or other aspects of the system abundantly clear, meaning parents may not know when their child’s rights are being violated.

Right to an attorney. Unlike adult criminal court, every child must be represented by an attorney throughout the Juvenile Court Process, once the child has been charged with a crime. You also have the right at any time in the process to change from a public defender to a defense attorney who specializes in juvenile law.

The right against self-incrimination, i.e. the ability to plead the 5th. Children, like adults, can invoke the 5th amendment in order to protect themselves from self-incrimination both on the witness stand and off.

The right to cross-examine witnesses. While adjudications in juvenile court are not, as mentioned, trials by jury, defense lawyers still have the right to cross-examine witnesses for the prosecution, giving the opportunity to show both sides of a situation as it may have occurred.

Juvenile law is a complicated and emotional field, and it takes a lawyer who has spent years working with minors to ensure that your child will receive the personalized attention they deserve. Leaving your child in the hands of the public legal system can have dire consequences. If you are concerned about your child’s future due to a recent brush with the law, contact Charles Block today.

Why Should I Hire a Lawyer for My Real Estate Transaction?

December 16th, 2015

Purchasing a house is usually the largest single expenditure that you’ll make in a lifetime. Many people view the home-buying process as a transaction but, in reality, it is just as much a legal procedure as it is an exchange of funds for property. It is important to obtain the services of a lawyer in order to protect your assets and make sure that the purchase agreement is executed in a manner that corresponds with your requirements for your new home. We’ve outlined just a few of the reasons why hiring a lawyer to assist you in the purchase of your home is a wise investment in your future.

1)      Advice and Guidance. While a real estate broker will explain the process of home buying and your agency will do the best to make a sale, a lawyer is hired specifically for the purpose of handling your affairs and taking your side should a legal dispute arise. An attorney specializing in real estate can explain the terms of an agreement in plain English, as well as revise the agreement if it becomes necessary, and make sure it was properly signed. Lawyers with expertise in real estate law are also able to answer important questions surrounding the purchase of a home and their legal rights and responsibilities.

2)      Special Circumstances. A purchase agreement is often made to fit a generic format that might not apply to the home you are looking to buy or sell. Hiring a lawyer to review this type of “standard form” and amend it if need be will make the end agreement better fit your desires. “Special circumstances” are not rare, and would apply to any sale of a property where anything is not perfectly in order. Some purchase agreement topics that may require legal assistance include: legal or illegal alteration of property, dangerous conditions such as hazardous waste, pests, asbestos or lead paint discovered after inspection, and deciding how a buyer will ultimately pay for their new home.

3)      You are buying or selling a home in an unfamiliar place. If you are buying a home far from your current location (especially out-of-state), or selling one that is not nearby (perhaps belonging to a deceased relative), the home buying or selling process will be complicated even further. A real estate attorney will have more information on the inter-state purchasing process than a realtor, whose licensing education is mostly based on the contracts used in the state where they are holding their license.

4)      Peacekeeping.  Ultimately, a real estate attorney’s job is to make a contract come together, and to work through any issues the buyer, seller and broker may encounter in coming to an agreement. As the lawyer enters the picture after the price and terms are set by realtors, their job is mainly to negotiate and collaborate with the parties involved in the home inspection, contract and title company.

For more information about what a qualified real estate attorney can do for you during the home buying process, give us a call. 

How Can Hiring A Lawyer Following a DUI or DWI Arrest Help My Case?

December 9th, 2015

Immediately after an arrest for Driving Under the Influence (DUI), Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), or any number of charges that can stem from the combination of motor vehicles and alcohol/drugs, your future may seem bleak. Sophisticated devices used in field sobriety tests, such as breath, urine and blood tests, may make it seem as if confessing all, pleading guilty, and/or relying on the services of an overworked Public Defender is the only logical option, given the evidence against you.

In reality, however, regardless of how hopeless your situation may seem, there are many measures that a dedicated attorney with years of experience practicing Criminal Law can take to eliminate or drastically lessen charges, saving you money, negative consequences and even hard time.

Always remember: the prosecution must prove your guilt beyond any reasonable doubt. A good DUI/DWI attorney may be able to challenge the evidence against you into sufficient question.

Examination of errors in DUI/DWI arrest procedures, especially field tests.

Alcotest machines and field sobriety tests are far from foolproof, and can be rendered invalid through a variety of different standard errors made by their administrator. Failure on the part of a police officer to [properly operate an Alcotest machine prior to each test, for example, can be grounds for invalidating the results. If this evidence cannot be used in court, it may destroy the case against you. The rules regarding urine and blood specimens taken at police stations and hospitals are very strict, and discovering a simple breach in protocol can cause these results to be thrown out, as well.

Skilled DUI/DWI attorneys know exactly how to trace the use of these field tests and devices in order to determine if the proper steps were taken prior to your arrest.

Discovering a violation of your rights.

Bringing a violation of your legal rights to light is one of the strongest defenses possible against a DUI/DWI charge. This is one of the primary reasons it is imperative to hire a DUI/DWI attorney immediately following an arrest; your memories of the event may be clearest shortly after it has occurred, and piecing together clues that could lead to evidence of careless and improper illegal police work which may work towards a dismissal of your charges

Finding and thoroughly interviewing witnesses.

Witnesses can serve a variety of purposes when compiling a legal defense. These individuals can provide cause to dispute the evidence provided by the police through verified reports that conflict with those of the attending law enforcement officers, helping to build a case for your future. Either way, a qualified DUI/DWI attorney will know where to look for useful witnesses, as well as possess the time to do so; a public defender may be overwhelmed with other cases and thus unable to dedicate the time and attention your case deserves.

For a DUI/DWI attorney with decades of experience helping clients receive a second chance, post-DUI or DWI arrest, call the Law Offices of Charles Block. As a dedicated Criminal Attorney, Charles Block provides clients with non-judgmental legal counsel, communicated clearly throughout the legal process. Visit our Contact page to set up an appointment to discuss your DUI or DWI arrest.

 

What You Need to Know about Cyberbullying

June 9th, 2015

Bullying in schools – or outside of them, for that matter – is hardly a new problem, and is moreover one that teachers, parents and the courts have long been torn on how to combat. The advent of the internet and the ubiquitous use of social media amongst teenagers and even younger children has opened the floodgates for bullying to take on an online persona; we call this use of the internet to harass, intimidate or generally cause harm to another person “cyberbullying.” Below is some information on the current legal status of this form of bullying.

Is cyberbullying against the law?

Cyberbullying currently rests in a legal “gray area,” with some recent high-profile court decisions seeming to indicate that the law is coming down hard on children (and adults) accused of using the internet to harm others. Cyberbullying itself is not a crime, much as there is no federal law that specifically applies to bullying; rather, in serious cases of bullying, a child can be charged with harassment, assault and other misdemeanor crimes and even felonies. Although cyberbullying is an inherently non-physical crime and thus unlikely to bring assault charges, criminal harassment statutes can provide a pathway to prosecution in serious cases. More recently, due to several highly visible stories of suicides occurring after online harassment, suicides by children and teens that were ruled to have had a root cause in cyberbullying have led to the arrest of the alleged cyberbullies, the implication being that the death was in some way caused by their actions. In the case of 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick, her alleged bullies were arrested on charges of aggravated stalking, a 3rd degree felony.

Furthermore, in cases in which a sexualized photo of an underage victim is distributed online as a form of harassment and/or intimidation (and even in cases where the intent was not necessarily malicious), charges can include not just harassment but possession and distribution of child pornography, regardless of the age of the possessor.

What Can I Do If My Child Is Accused of Cyberbullying?

Schools and courts are beginning to crack down on defendants accused of cyberbullying, in part because of a widespread movement to acknowledge the emotional and physical harm that bullying of any form can lead to. Because of so many recent high-publicity incidents, including suicides and school shootings, in which bullying is suspected to have played a key role in causing the tragedies, the judicial trend has been towards greater accountability on the part of the accused. In short, accusations of cyberbullying are not to be taken lightly.

Contacting a lawyer who specializes in juvenile law immediately upon learning of accusations is the best first measure you can take to protect your child. The process of trying a juvenile is substantially different than that of an adult, and it’s well-advised to work with a lawyer who is experienced and skilled in this department. This can mean the difference between years in a state facility vs. rehabilitation and a second chance.

Should you find yourself in a situation where you and your child may need legal services because of cyberbullying or other cybercrimes, contact us to work with the law office of Charles J. Block to give your child the opportunity for a second chance. If your child has been ACCUSED BUT NOT YET CHARGED with a crime, we may be able to prevent the filing of formal charges.

What Can Happen When an Adolescent is Detained

May 27th, 2015

The adolescence phase for many individuals, is a time of growing and changing in one’s life. A young mind takes learning and experience to figure out the right direction to take when it comes to making decisions. When teenagers make mistakes that result in breaking the law, the consequences can be life-changing and make the road for a bright future difficult. That’s why when it comes to the court of law, criminal juveniles are at an advantage when a lawyer is hired to defend their case. A highly-skilled and experienced lawyer can protect the rights of the juvenile and help the charges of his or her case becomes reduced or dropped.

 

Protecting the Rights of a Minor

As a juvenile criminal lawyer that has handled over hundreds of cases throughout the New Jersey area, I have assisted many young adults with achieving a less harsh outcome regarding their misdemeanor. If you are a juvenile that has been charged with a criminal offense, I can represent your case so that the best possible outcome can be achieved. Some of the sentences I can help you avoid include detention at a state facility, mandatory counseling, being charged as an adult and more. I feel that the future of young individuals is important and that they deserve a second chance at making things right.

 

How Police Handle Juvenile Violations

A good aspect to be aware of is how juveniles are dealt with by police. Whether the minor is referred by parents or school officials to the police, or arrested, there are a number of ways that law enforcement can handle a criminal statute. Depending on the alleged violation, the police officer will decide how the offense should be dealt with. This factor can be used in the argument of the juvenile’s defense in his or her favor.

 

For example, if the officer arrests the minor and does not state the Miranda warning, then whatever words were said by the minor cannot be used against him or her in the court of law. If the police officer detains the minor and does not allow him or her to call their parents or another guardian, it can be considered a denial of civil rights, making it viable in the minor’s defense. So, when police are dealing with the violation of a minor, what can happen?

 

The Choice of Law Enforcement

One option police officers have when dealing with a minor is to issue a warning. The minor can be detained, issued a warning, and then let go. Another option is to detain the minor until a parent comes to take custody of their child. If the officer arrests the minor, he or she could decide to place the juvenile in custody and refer the violation to juvenile court. Once this happens, a juvenile court intake officer or prosecutor takes over the case. At this point, the case is now in the prosecutors’ hands and that person may handle the mishap informally, dismiss the case, or petition the case.

 

If your child is faced with formal charges filed against him or her, then hiring a lawyer is highly recommended to obtain a result that will be a better outcome. Contact me, Charles Block, for a consultation today.

Do You Need A DUI Or DWI Attorney For Your Case?

April 30th, 2015

Do you really need a DUI or DWI attorney for your case?

If this is your first time being charged with either a DUI or DWI you might feel scared, nervous, angry, or a combination of all three. When your court date comes and you are standing in front of the judge without an attorney, you might feel even more emotional than when you received the DUI or DWI charge. Not only that, if you do not have an attorney, you will have no way to defend yourself from the police officer who charged you with the DUI or DWI. Sure, you might feel confident your argument could be better than his, but if you are indeed guilty, there will be little you can do to receive a lesser punishment.

Hiring a DUI/DWI attorney has many benefits.

A good DUI/DWI attorney will have a thorough understanding of the court system, be skilled in sentence and plea bargaining, as well as have the ability to easily navigate through all of the paperwork. Even though having an attorney has its benefits, if you know that you are guilty and just happen to be savvy in your state’s DUI/DWI laws and penalties, you might not want to spend the extra money to have a lawyer at your side. However, having a n attorney will always be beneficial no matter what.

A good DUI/DWI attorney will help you determine whether or not you should plead guilty.

You recently got pulled over and the police officer determined that your BAC was a little bit over the limit—maybe a .09. But, you were not driving erratically and you have never been pulled over before—for anything. Plus, you witnessed the officer fumbling around with an older-looking breathalyzer before he walked over and tested your BAC.

If something appears a little off about the scenario mentioned above, it is. The first thing the officer didn’t do was have you perform a field sobriety test. He automatically assumed you were way over the legal limit and pulled out his breathalyzer. Did he read you your chemical test rights? If not, this officer might have had another agenda.

If you believe that you should plead guilty in a situation such as this, think again. You should and need to call an attorney. There is a chance that the breathalyzer may have not gave the officer the correct reading, or after consulting with an attorney—you find that he failed to do his job correctly. These are all things a skilled DUI/DWI attorney will be able to discuss with you when you when you see them for a consultation.

On the other hand…

If you failed a field sobriety test, refused to take a breathalyzer test, and were in jail for the night, chances are a DUI/DWI attorney will not be able to help you. If anything, he or she will be able to get you a reduced sentence.

In the end, whether you need an attorney or not will be entirely dependent on if you want one. Some cases might need them, and others will not. If you are unsure if you do, you can always call Charles Block to schedule a free consultation regarding your case.

Top Ten Reasons to Hire an Attorney for Your Criminal Charge

March 18th, 2015

If you have been charged with a criminal offense in New Jersey, such as shoplifting or burglary, you are probably wondering if you should hire an attorney to represent you. With a court date looming up ahead and a sentencing to follow, you may be wondering and whether hiring an attorney is worth the investment. As an experienced attorney, I have represented numerous criminal cases and have succeeded in having robbery charges dropped or lowered in the New Jersey state. Rather than rely on a public defender to help you with your case, my legal services will assist you with handling and negotiating all aspects of your criminal charge.

 

There are a variety of reasons that you should opt for the professional legal services of an experienced defense attorney. Allowing an attorney to represent your case will benefit you greatly and may help you obtain a better outcome for your situation. Don’t take the chance of having a criminal charge marked on your record, spending time in jail and having to pay large fines. Give yourself the opportunity to have favorable results in your criminal charge. Below I have listed the top ten reasons why you should consider hiring a defense attorney to represent your criminal case.

 

  1. Evidence Errors – A lawyer will find issues with the evidence presented that may otherwise be unrecognizable.
  2. Paperwork Duty – In order to fill out paperwork correctly, a lawyer will help you. Administrative clerks do not help with this aspect, leaving you to do it on your own.
  3. Achieve a More Positive Outcome – With your assistance, your attorney will work with the prosecution to determine a decreased charge and plea deal.
  4. Witnesses – You may not know how to get in touch with a witness, but your lawyer will. A witness can help you in your case.
  5. Keep a Clean Record – Without a lawyer, you will not be able to have your criminal record eliminated.
  6. Submission and Deadlines – A legal professional will ensure that your paperwork is turned in on time.
  7. Expert Advice – The lawyer will provide you with all the information you need and can answer all of your questions.
  8. Save Money – Because your charges may be dropped or lowered, a lawyer on your side can prevent you from having to pay a bail and expensive fines.
  9. Less Stress and Worry – The amount of time it takes to handle a criminal case alone can take a toll on the emotional state of mind. A lawyer will take away this burden.
  10. Educate Yourself – Your attorney will make sure that you understand your rights and know what is happening in your case.

 

I, Charles Block, devote my time and energy to my clients. I will make sure that your rights are not violated, despite your accusation. Once you consult with me regarding your New Jersey burglary charges for the first time, I will help you understand the seriousness of your charges and devise a legal strategy to achieve a better outcome under your circumstance. Contact me today for a meeting by filling out the online form on my website, emailing me at Charles@CharlesBlock.com, or by calling 856-741-1495.