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Union Criminal Law Blog

What's the difference between dismissal and expungement?

A criminal record can have far-reaching consequences, even long after your case has been finalized. Criminal records may affect the employment and business opportunities available to you. Similarly, your chances of accessing government benefits, student loans and housing or participating in civic activities may also be limited. When talking about criminal records, it is important to understand the difference between dismissal and expungement. 

Dismissed case

How can a DWI impact your life for many years?

As human beings, we all make bad decisions just about every day. However, a decision to get behind the wheel when you are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is one that can impact your life for many years to come.

New Jersey residents often feel ashamed or stupid after being charged with DWI. Too few seek legal help. They just want to take the consequences and move on with their lives. However, once your jail time is completed, your DWI classes are finished, your fines are paid and your license is reinstated, the consequences of a DWI are not necessarily over.

What is New Jersey's pretrial intervention program?

You've lived a good, upstanding life and have never been in trouble with the law before. Then one day you make a mistake. For first-time offenders, New Jersey offers something called "pretrial intervention." PTI gives people with no past felony criminal record an alternative to prosecution by traditional methods while incentivizing them to obey the law in the future.

Generally, only people charged with non-violent felonies and lesser offenses who are New Jersey residents and have no past felony convictions are eligible for PTI. However, prosecutors can make an exception.

New Jersey lawmakers targets domestic violence

A proposed bill in the New Jersey legislature would increase the penalties for domestic violence. It would amend state laws to make domestic violence third-degree crimes, and increase the chances of someone convicted of domestic violence going to prison. If a child under 16 is present during the alleged abuse, that would be an aggravating factor.

This proposal comes almost a year after videos of football player Ray Rice hitting his then-fiancee and dragging her unconscious out of an elevator at Atlantic City's Revel Casino last February became international news. Prosecutors allowed Rice to participate in a 12-month pretrial intervention program rather than face trial. If he completes it successfully, the charge will be removed from his record.

Facing a DWI? Why should you challenge breath analyzer results?

During the holidays, many people drink more than they normally do. At holiday gatherings, alcohol is often free and free-flowing. Police in New Jersey and across the country know that and often step up DWI enforcement around the holidays.

Consequently, many people find themselves pulled over for a DWI for the first time ever. If a breath analyzer test shows that you are over the legal blood alcohol concentration level, you may feel like you have no option but to face the penalties. These can include jail, fines and loss of driving privileges.

The goal of a drug court in New Jersey

Within the New Jersey court system, you will find specialized courts that are known as drug courts. Numerous people work within these courts, all as part of the same larger system, and these officials include the judge, the court staff, the probation officers, the attorneys, the treatment specialists and others.

Drug courts are different than standard courts in regards to their overall goal. While they do hand out punishments for crimes that are committed, the overall end goal is to combat the abuse of drugs -- including alcohol -- that takes place on a consistent basis. These are many different tactics that are used, but this end goal remains the same.

New Jersey counties vary on immigrant prisoner procedures

The county jails in New Jersey and U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement are at odds regarding the release of prisoners who may be subject to deportation without notifying ICE first. As an ICE spokesman notes, when these prisoners are released, "it undermines ICE's ability to protect public safety and impedes us from enforcing the nation's immigration laws,"

ICE wants to pick up these prisoners on detainer requests. These requests ask that certain prisoners be held for a minimum of two days after their release date for ICE agents to take them into custody.

What are the consequences of a DWI conviction in New Jersey?

Being arrested for DWI can be a frightening experience. Whether a police officer determined based on his or her observation that you were driving while impaired, or testing showed that you had a blood alcohol content over the legal limit (.08) or drugs in your system, you can be taken into custody.

A DWI conviction in New Jersey, even for a first offense, carries a number of possible penalties. These include fines, driver's license suspension, participation in an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center program, an ignition interlock device on your car and possibly prison time. Your annual auto insurance premiums could also rise by as much as $5,000.

Ray Rice's domestic violence suspension hearing

Next month, Ray Rice, a tailback for the Baltimore Ravens in the National Football League, will have an appeal hearing on his indefinite suspension from the league. He was suspended by Roger Goodell, the league's commissioner, for violating the policy on personal conduct.

Rice's suspension was the result of a video coming to light that showed the football player punching his wife while they were at a casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in February of this year. He pleaded not guilty to a charge of felony aggravated assault. He was able to avoid doing jail time because of a pretrial intervention program.

What happens if a teen is charged with an underage DUI?

Getting a driver's license is a coming-of-age accomplishment for many teenagers. However, that license can quickly be taken away, especially if the teen decides to drink and drive. In New Jersey, there are significant penalties for those who are charged with underage DUI.

Those who are under the age of 21 should remember that the penalties for DUI also apply to operating a boat. If an underage driver of a motor vehicle or a boat is found to have a blood alcohol level of .01 percent, then he or she can be charged with underage DUI. The penalties for a conviction on such a charge are:

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