ATLANTIC CITY — A seminar Thursday morning aims to spread information about the steps to expunge criminal and juvenile records, giving participants the chance to learn how they can move past a minor conviction.
“Imagine the worst thing you have ever done,” said Jill Houck, operations division manager for the Atlantic/Cape May vicinage. “Now imagine having to write this incident down every time you apply for a job, apply for a mortgage, apply for housing, apply to be a volunteer. This is what someone with a criminal conviction must do.”
An expungement allows someone to move on by shielding their conviction from public view, Houck said.
The free seminar, which runs from 9:30 to 11 a.m., will be held at the Atlantic County Civil Courts Building, 1201 Bacharach Blvd. Judiciary staff and representatives from South Jersey Legal Services will provide information about the types of records that can be expunged, time requirements as well as the filing process. A Spanish interpreter will also be available.
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While burglary, theft, assault, drug possession, simple assault, shoplifting, hindering and other minor offenses can be expunged, or sealed, serious offenses such as homicide, robbery, kidnapping, sexual assault and arson cannot, Houck said.
“Also, there is a waiting period after conviction depending on the seriousness of the offense, which ranges from two to six years,” she said.
There is a lot of paperwork involved in getting a record expunged, Houck said. The person requesting it must file with the Superior Court, the Prosecutor’s Office, all municipal courts and police departments where they were arrested and/or charged, State Police and other government entities. If the expungement is granted, they have to redistribute the signed order to all of the same agencies.
“The process is tedious, and some people find it discouraging because it is a lot of paperwork,” she said. “That is why we have these seminars — to assist people with the process.”
Registration is required; email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 609-402-0100, ext. 47252.