Civil Reservations in New Jersey

Civil reservations are important anytime there is a traffic, criminal, or quasi criminal conviction where a person was harmed. It is up to the defendant or their attorney to request a civil reservation at the time of plea or sentencing. It is not automatically granted by the courts and it cannot be entered after conviction.

  • What are civil reservations?

Imagine the following scenario. You are driving home from work in traffic. As you attempt to make a lane change another vehicle in the far lane is coming into the same lane you are changing into. The two vehicles collide. Your vehicle comes to a safe stop while the other car careens off the highway and into a pole. Both vehicles are heavily damaged and the police come. The other driver appears uninjured and does not leave in an ambulance. After taking statements from you and the other driver, the officer cannot tell who was at fault and issues both drivers tickets for carless driving and unsafe lane change. One month later you go to the court. You do not see the other driver. The municipal prosecutor offers to dismiss the unsafe lane change and to reduce the careless driving ticket to unsafe driving so you have no points. You take the deal and plead guilty, pay your fines, and leave. The other driver hires an attorney and goes to the same court a month later. He uses the fact that you already pled guilty to unsafe driving to convince the prosecutor that you caused the accident and his ticket is dismissed. Twenty two months later you get served with a civil complaint for personal injury from the other driver who is claiming serious bodily injury. The plaintiff in that action will be able to use the fact that you pled guilty to unsafe driving in his lawsuit to prove liability. You only have $100,000 in personal injury protection benefits and the plaintiff is suing for millions.


The above scenario happens more often than you think. Fortunately, it can be avoided with a civil reservation. A civil reservation order prohibits a litigant from using a guilty plea in civil court. The plaintiff will not be able to mention that you went to court and pled guilty to unsafe driving. It will be like the guilty plea you entered never happened and the parties will be left to sort out the civil case on an even playing field.


  • In what kinds of cases should I request a civil reservation?

– Any traffic ticket where there was an accident. This could include reckless driving, careless driving, unsafe driving, speeding, failure to maintain lane, failure to observe a traffic control device, and many more.

– Any criminal or quasi criminal case where there is a victim claiming harm. Charges could include harassment, assault, stalking, theft, arson, burglary, and many more. However, most courts will order restitution if they know there is a victim that was harmed. Restitution unlike a civil law suit will only compensate a victim for out of pocket expenses. Civil lawsuit may include damages like pain and suffering or punitive damages which often far outweigh the victim’s actual out of pocket expenses.


  • How do I get a civil reservation in New Jersey?

It is easy to get a civil reservation in municipal court. At the time of the plea, you simply ask the judge for a civil reservation and the law says the court must grant it unless there is a very good reason not to. The judge will literally stamp the ticket in red “Civil Reservation.” The reason civil reservations are granted on request is that municipal courts are very busy. If civil litigants were allowed to use municipal court convictions as leverage in a civil case, less people would plead guilty, more people would demand trials and the already overloaded municipal courts would be further backlogged.


In Superior Court, civil reservations are less common. On indictable charges, the standard changes so that the burden is on the defendant to demonstrate by good cause why a civil reservation should be granted. The victim must be noticed and has an opportunity to object.


Going to any court can be an intimidating and uncomfortable experience. As the judge is reading out your fines at the speed of an auctioneer, it is easy to forget to request a civil reservation. Hiring a lawyer may lead to dismissal of charges or tickets, reduce fines and penalties and ensure that the court enters a civil reservation. Before you go to court alone, consult with New Jersey attorneys like Roberts & Teeter, LLC who are experienced in obtaining civil reservations for their clients.


Served with a Search Warrant?


When You are Served with a
Search Warrant
Search warrants allow for law enforcement to search property in
the event that they have probable cause to do so. When they search the
location, they are looking for evidence that can be incriminating. Without a
search warrant, the police cannot access and search your home without you
giving them the green light. If the search is in an effort to protect you or
other innocent parties, authorities can search property without a warrant.

Requirements of a Search Warrant

There are four requirements that must be met in order for a
search warrant to be valid:


1.The warrant must specify the specific location and items that
will be searched and seized in the event that the authorities find what they
are looking for.

2. The police must be able to prove that there is probable cause
that gives them reason to search a particular location.

3. A judge must approve the search warrant.

4. It must be filed by the police.


When a Search Warrant is Served
Prior to allowing the police to search
the area that the warrant specifies, you must first look at the warrant to
confirm that it is valid.
The Date
A warrant can be valid for as long as
items outlined in the warrant can be located. There is really no specified
length of time that a warrant is valid for but generally, they should be less
than two weeks old.
When inspecting the warrant double check
to make sure that the address is correct. There have been instances where the
incorrect property has been searched. Not only is this a hassle to those
involved, it is also a waste of time and resources.
It is important to check that the
warrant was signed by a judge. When the judge has signed the warrant it is
considered valid as they have consented to the search taking place.
When a Warrant is Invalid
Always inform the police if you notice an error in the police
report. In the event that the warrant does not have the correct information,
you have a right to deny them entry into your home or property. Despite this,
the police may decide to search your house. If this occurs, any of the evidence
that the authorities find in their search could be deemed inadmissible in
court. An attorney who specializes in criminal defense, can help to protect
your rights throughout this process.
Always contact a defense attorney such as Criminal Defense Lawyer Baltimore MD  if you believe your rights were violated when a search warrant was served.
Thanks to authors at Greenberg Lawyers for their insight into Criminal Defense

Heroin and Opiate Problem in New Jersey

In Addressing the Heroin and Opiate Problem in New Jersey, the Attorney General has Missed a Valuable Opportunity

On October 28, 2014, Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman released Directive 2014-2 entitled “Concerning Heroin and Opiate Investigations/Prosecutions.”  The Directive is available at

According to the introduction, the State is responding to the heroin epidemic by ensuring the various counties throughout the State are following a uniformed approach regarding the enforcement of criminal law and administration of criminal justice.  What follows is a cacophony of creative criminal law policy initiatives purportedly designed to address the problem.  According to this author, while some steps have been made to reduce the number of people in the criminal justice system as a result of drug use, the overall effect of Directive 2014-2 will result in more prosecutions and longer sentences, thereby raising the costs already endured by the drug epidemic in New Jersey.

In the Directive, the Office of the Attorney General describes the uniformed policy to be implemented regarding six different stages of a drug case. Part 1 encourages overdose prevention by requiring officers to investigate whether the medical aid exception applies to persons who have called for medical aid following a possible drug overdose.  This mandate is the result of legislation passed in 2013 that prohibits the prosecution of a charge of possession to those people who contact emergency services to request aid for a possible drug overdose.  Its purpose is to encourage people who need medical assistance due to a possible drug overdose to call the police without fear of arrest. Through Directive 2014-2, Statewide training for police will take place within 120 days, responding officers are directed to investigate the possibility of the immunity prior to arrest, and to report the circumstances to the local prosecutor to make a determination if the immunity applies. This is certainly a step that may lead to a small decrease in arrests for drug possession and possibly save lives.

Part 2 encourages police officer training for Narcan deployment. This is a nasally-injected opioid antidote designed to save the life of a heroin or prescription opioid overdose.  This policy is great in theory, but one questions whether law enforcement officers are the best persons available to be making determinations as to whether a person is suffering an opiate overdose and then go the step further by administering a prescription strength drug into the system of a person who is unlikely to be able to consent to the treatment.  When administering prescription strength drugs many medically important factors need to be taken into consideration including the victims past medical history, weight, tolerance, allergies, etc. Rather than training officers to administer Narcan, this author suggests that EMTs would be a more appropriate choice.  They often respond to the scene as quickly as police, and they are better trained in the diagnosis of medical conditions and the administration of strong narcotics.

Part 3 requests “prompt and thorough investigation of possible prosecutions for strict liability drug-induced death”.  New Jersey’s strict liability statute 2C:35-9 makes it a 1st degree crime to distribute drugs that result in a persons death. In 1987, the State created a strict liability statute carrying a sentencing range between 10 – 20 years for drug induced deaths from the distribution of any schedule I or II drug which includes marijuana. Here, the Directive serves to encourage more prosecutions under this statute.  As the Directive explains, recognizing that “historically, the drug-induced death statute has been used sparingly,” this Directive encourages the State to “fully, fairly, and expeditious investigate and prosecute” under this statute with a “view toward deterring drug dealers from distributing or dispensing those types of controlled dangerous substances.”  However, there is no research demonstrating that strict penalties for drug distribution in fact serve as a deterrence. It is unlikely that drug distributors engage in the cost benefit analysis required for deterrence to be successful; moreover, even if they did, the sale of drugs is so profitable in this country that the penalties if convicted, even the harsh ones under 2C:35-9, are likely viewed as the cost of doing business.

Part 4 seeks “enhanced and coordinated investigation/prosecution of corrupt healthcare professionals and pill mills.” The concept is that doctors and pharmacies are writing pain management prescriptions too often and contributing to the supply of opiates on the street.  To combat this perceived problem, the Attorney General has created a Prescription Fraud Investigation Strike Team whose job it is to investigate and prosecute healthcare officials.  While the street level drug dealer is likely unswayed by harsh penalties designed for deterrent purposes, medical professionals are not.  A very real consequence of this Directive is that Doctors will be deterred from prescribing necessary and appropriate opiate pain management medication for fear they will be on the receiving end of a Strike Team investigation.

Part 5 outlines “enhanced prosecution of drug traffickers who sell ultradangerous opiate mixtures or heroin along with other opiates.”  Here, to combat dangerous drug cocktails, the Directive seeks to strength the Brimage Guidelines.  The Brimage Guidelines, have frequently been criticized as being overly harsh and reducing discretion with prosecutors and the courts. This measure seeks to further limit that discretion, impose stiffer penalties with long periods of parole ineligibility, and raise the bail of those persons who are charged with Brimage offenses.

Finally, Part 6 recognizes the futility of incarceration in the War Against Drugs and encourages rehabilitation through Court Ordered Special Drug Court Probation. This is a small concession to the enhanced penalties and greater prosecutions demanded under this Directive, particularly since Drug Court Probation has existed in some form since 1996. This Directive offers little to expand the Drug Court program, and in fact, under subsection d, directs prosecutors to identify and screen-out those individuals they believe are malingers and to prosecute them through traditional means.

In whole, Directive 2014-2 is a well-intentioned effort at addressing the drug problems in the State but will likely result in more incarcerations for drug crimes with longer sentences. Through the Directive police officers will be trained and directed to administer strong prescription drugs to possibly non consenting victims who require emergent medical care. Prosecutors will be required to charge the strict liability death by drugs statute and seek enhanced Brimage sentences for distributors of what they consider dangerous opiate cocktails. Doctors will be deterred from prescribing necessary and appropriate opiate pain management medication.

As a result of this new policy from the Attorney General, I predict no decrease in drug usage. However, I do expect to see increased arrests and harsher punishments, costing the tax payers even more.  Yet again New Jersey is combating the State’s drug problem with arrest and incarceration and giving lip service to education and rehabilitation.  If a fraction of the resources we spend on arrest, prosecution, and incarceration were spent on education and rehabilitation, the drug demand would be substantially reduced and New Jersey would see savings economically, socially, and through the quality of people’s lives which is what matters most.


Michael B. Roberts, Esq.

Defending Drug Cases in New Jersey Municipal Courts

Several months ago I was retained by a college student who was facing two charges. Possession of 50 grams or less of marijuana in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a and unlawful possession of a prescription drug in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10.5e(1). Both charges are disorderly persons offenses so they were handled in municipal court. The law states that disorderly persons offenses carry the risk of 6 months in jail, $1,000 in fines, and for drug offenses, a loss of license.

My client had never before been in trouble. He was a double major with a 4.0 GPA. His résumé spoke volumes about internships he did, community service, and hard work. A conviction on his record was simply not an option. Fortunately, the client was eligible for a conditional discharge. Had we decided to enrolled him in the conditional discharge program he would have been on a period of probation for 12 months and subject to random urine monitoring. He would have had to remain compliant, drug free, and arrest free. The earliest we would have been able to expunge the arrest would have been 18 months and my client would have burned his conditional discharge. I felt the criminal defense lawyers at Roberts & Teeter could have done better, and I counseled the client on his options. He decided he wanted to fight.

Step one, as in any criminal case is to demand, receive, and review discovery.

Here, discovery explained that a Resident Advisor smelled the odor of marijuana in a dorm room and called the police. According to the police, my client was later seen by the RA leaving the room and carrying in his hand what looked like marijuana. He was later found by police outside his dorm room. My client denied any wrongdoing, gave voluntary consent to search his person and his dorm room. Nothing was recovered from my client and the police report didn’t indicate that any marijuana was found anywhere else. Instead, the police found a prescription pill bottle containing 1 pill of Adderall with someone else’s name on it. According to the police report, the police called the owner, and the owner admitted that he has a valid prescription for Adderall but denied being in my client’s room and that he doesn’t know how his pill bottle wound up there. The police inferred in the discovery that the owner threw out the bottle and that my client retrieved it from the trash and kept it as his own. My client’s version was manifestly different.

My client explained that he had no idea how that bottle wound up in his room but that it belonged to his friend and neighbor who probably left it in his room by mistake. Because my client’s version of the events wasn’t matching the version provided by the police more investigation was necessary. I called the owner of the prescription bottle who explained that at about 3:00 am, while he was sleeping, he awoke to a police call from the police. He admitted to being the lawful owner of the prescription and had no recollection of having told the police that he was never in my client’s room. Instead, he told me that he had been in that room recently, and may have left the bottle there by mistake. I was able to secure a signed affidavit from the witness to that effect and provided it in reciprocal discovery.

We appeared in municipal court and I urged the municipal prosecutor to dismiss the charged. I explained that the prescription pill belonged to a friend that there was no evidence of any marijuana recovered. The prosecutor indicated that he had a lab report which tested positive for marijuana and the pill tested positive for amphetamines. He offered a conditional discharge. Because the lab report had not yet been provided in discovery we adjourned.


There is a De Minimis exception to the prescription pill charge. The law says: 

A person who knowingly possesses, actually or constructively:

(1) a prescription legend drug or stramonium preparation in an amount of four or fewer dosage units unless lawfully prescribed or administered by a licensed physician, veterinarian, dentist or other practitioner authorized by law to prescribe medication is a disorderly person.

However the charge:

shall be deemed a de minimis infraction subject to dismissal pursuant to N.J.S. 2C:2-11 if the person demonstrates that he unlawfully received no more than six dosage units within a 24 hour period, that the prescription legend drug or stramonium preparation was lawfully prescribed for or administered to the person from whom he had received it, and that the person possessed the prescription legend drug or stramonium preparation for solely for his personal use.

N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10.5e. On the face of the complaint, my client was charged with possessing four or less doses of Adderall. The discovery revealed that the police only recovered one pill. Additionally, I had a signed affidavit and a copy of a valid prescription from the lawful owner. I therefore filed a motion with the Superior Court to dismiss the prescription pill charge as De Minimis. Because I was only moving to dismiss the prescription pill charge and not the marijuana charge, the county prosecutor did not object and the motion was granted.

At this point, only the marijuana charge remained, and I knew that the State would have a proof problem because no police report indicated where the marijuana was found. When we returned to municipal court, I was able to explain that the prescription charge had been dismissed and outlined the problems that State would have trying to convict my client on possession of marijuana. The municipal prosecutor reviewed the police reports and agreed it wasn’t worth trying the case. On his motion, the marijuana charge was dismissed and the case was over. In dismissing the complaint, the Judge turned to my client and said, “You do realize your attorney hit a home run for you.” I’m certain my client did.

Here, there were many lessons learned from this case. In order to properly defend drug cases in municipal court, you must get the discovery and review it with your client. If there are discrepancies, further investigation may be in order. Always research the statute charged because sometimes a possible defense is written directly into the statute. If you can get one count dismissed, do it, because defending against less charges is easier. Don’t immediately enroll all eligible defendants into a conditional discharge, a conditional dismissal or PTI. Sometimes, a better result is possible. Finally, don’t be afraid to take cases to trial. Its advisable to actually prepare for trial, and make it known to the prosecutor that you are not backing down, taking the deal, and you are certain that you can win the case. If you are convincing enough, the prosecutor may just dismiss the case for you and save you and your client the time and expense of having the judge decide it.

If you or someone you know is facing prescription pill charges, marijuana charges, or other drugs charges in New Jersey, contact the attorneys at Roberts & Teeter and see what we can do to help. 732-325-0814


Michael B. Roberts, Esq.

Criminal Defense Lawyer New Brunswick NJ

Arrested In New Brunswick?

Getting arrested is one of life’s most traumatic experiences. The emotions that follow an arrest range from anxiety to anger and frustration. During these troubling times you need the help of a professional criminal lawyer. At Roberts & Teeter we have handled countless cases involving DWI, drug possession, theft, resisting arrest, traffic violations, and disorderly persons. Our team of criminal lawyers will work with you to create a plan that aims to cast a reasonable doubt on the prosecutions case. To set up a free consultation please call 732-325-0814.

Student & Military Discounts

free consultation

New Brunswick Criminal Lawyers

An arrest in New Brunswick, NJ can carry serious consequences including fines, probation, community service, and jail time. Our New Brunswick criminal attorneys will review every angle of your arrest looking to form an aggressive plan that aims to have your charges dismissed or significantly downgraded. After being arrested it is important that you act immediately and take control of your case. The sooner you hire a criminal lawyer the more time they have to review the facts of your case and build a plan to get the best possible results.

New Brunswick Municipal Court

After being arrested New Brunswick Police will issue you a summons. If you take a closer look you will notice that your court date has already been set. If you have any questions or concerns about your court date you must contact the court several days in advance. New Brunswick Municipal Court is located at 25 Kirkpatrick Street in New Brunswick, NJ 08901. To contact the court by telephone call (732) 745-5089 or visit the New Brunswick Municipal Court Website.

New Brunswick has 2 judges that preside over matters. Judge Philip A. Borow and Judge Mary H. Casey preside over the court. The court administrators are Kim Milligan, Marlina Papotto, and Moira Appicelli. New Brunswick Municipal Court is held on Monday at 8:45 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 4:45 p.m., Tuesday and Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. and 4:45 p.m., and on Thursday at 8:45 a.m and 12:30 p.m.

Rutgers University DWI & Criminal Charges

Getting arrested as a student in New Brunswick has serious consequences. A criminal offense for possession of marijuana, DWI, theft, and assault carries penalties that can hinder your career opportunities, substantial fines, and loss of scholarships and grants. If you are arrested as a student do not hesitate to call us 732-325-0814 for a free consultation. During our free initial consultation our criminal defense lawyers will work with you to examine your case and create an aggressive plan to get your case dismissed or substantially reduce the penalties. Special Discounts for Students and Military Personal is Available

Motion to Dismiss: De Minimis Application for Underage Gambling

Motion to Dismiss: De Minimis Application for Underage Gambling

Slot-MachinesRecently we appeared in Atlantic County Superior Court and argued a de minimis motion in front of the Honorable Julio Mendez. We were appearing on behalf of an out-of-state client who was charged with underage gambling in the state of New Jersey. We won on our motion, the case was dismissed against our client, and he will be able to continue pursuing an education and career without the burden of a criminal record. This post will explain what Judges consider in making the decision to dismiss an underage gambling case by way of de minimis application.

First, it’s important to understand what a motion to dismiss by de minimis application actually is. The term “de minimis” is latin and translates to “concerning minimal things.” Some would describe it in the context of law as meaning “the law cares not for small things” or “of minimum importance.”  When an attorney files a motion to dismiss by de minimis application with the Superior Court of New Jersey, the attorney is asking the Court to dismiss the charge because it is so minimal.

The attorney is arguing that the alleged conduct is so minimal that it did not cause the harm sought to be prevented by the law and therefore, the charge should be dismissed. De minimis motions are often filed in underage gambling cases because all it takes is one quarter and one slot machine for an underage person to catch a criminal charge. That’s exactly what happened in our most recent underage gambling case.

Our client was a college student from out-of-state who was visiting an Atlantic City casino with his cousins and friends. He was the only person who was under the age of 21 and he was alleged to have spent 50 cents on a slot machine. Shortly after he inserted the money and pressed a button on the machine, he was approached by casino security and asked to provide identification. Upon realizing he was under the age of 21, they took him to a security room to be processed and banned him frcasino chipsom the property for life. Days later, our client received a criminal complaint in the mail.

Underage gambling is taken very seriously in New Jersey, there is no plea bargaining allowed and a conviction will bring $500-$1,000 in fines, a six month driver’s license suspension and it will remain on a criminal record. Many out-of-state residents visiting Atlantic City falsely believe that a NJ driver’s license suspension will not affect their out-of-state license. This couldn’t be further from the truth, as New Jersey will forward the notice of license suspension to the state in which the individual resides. More than likely, their home state will suspend their license as well. If the individual is under the age of 17 and has not yet obtained a driver’s license, the issuance of their driver’s license will be postponed for six months.

As mentioned before, we won on our motion and the case was dismissed. There were a few factors the Judge took into consideration when he sided with us.

The Judge took into consideration:

  1. Our client had no prior criminal record.
  2. He was in school pursuing a college degree and career.
  3. A conviction would bring a criminal record and more than likely be detrimental to our client when it came time to apply for a job.
  4. The casino security confiscated no money, as he only put a few quarters in a slot machine and lost (usually when they catch an underage gambler that person has won money from the casino or is in possession of casino chips that need to be confiscated).
  5. He cooperated, was truthful when asked his age, and he provided his valid out-of-state driver’s license as identification (usually when they catch an underage gambler that person lies about their true age or provides a fake I.D. or does not cooperate with security guards).
  6. He did not cash in any currency for casino chips and was not sitting at a table game in which his actions would affect other gamblers’ money.
  7. He complied with the casino security order of vacating the property and not returning ever (even though he is now of age to gamble, he is never allowed back on that particular casino’s property).
  8. There was no specific victim other than society as a whole.
  9. He was the only individual out of the group of people he was with that was under the age of 21.
  10. That his conduct was “not the type of underage gambling that the law was meant to protect against.”

Overall it is important to fight these cases and to file appropriate motions when the conduct is so minimal or small. The factors provided above do not always work in every person’s favor and often do not apply. Every case is different and a skilled attorney can make the determination of what factors to argue to the judge. Winning on a motion to dismiss by way of de minimis application could be the difference between a young person having the burden of a criminal record and that person being able to pursue careers with a clean criminal record/background check.  If you or someone you know was charged with underage gambling in the state of New Jersey, do not hesitate to contact the law office of Roberts & Teeter today. 732-325-0814

2017 UPDATE: Defendants in Underage Gambling cases in New Jersey have the option as first time offenders to be placed into a Conditional Dismissal Diversion Program. Once entered into the program, the defendant must remain arrest free and fulfill all terms set by the Judge. If the defendant is able to do that, the charges will be dismissed at the end of the twelve month term. In NJ, you are only allowed to enter into a diversion program like this ONCE in your entire life. Before deciding which route to go, consider this:

Prosecutors may encourage you to enter the program prior to you speaking with a skilled attorney. Many times when clients call our office we discuss the de minimis option with them and that seems like a better fit. If we are successful on the motion, the case would be dismissed outright without the client using their one-time diversion program, without paying fines, and without being placed on a year long probationary period. De Minimis is still the way to go in cases involving minimal underage gambling activity. Call us today to discuss your case. 732-325-0814

Written by: Matthew Teeter, Esq.


Expungements in New Jersey

It may have been that drunken night years ago when you were in college, or that scuffle that was blown out of proportion, but if you had any involvement with law enforcement at any point in your life, chances are there is a record of it. More and more employers are running background checks on their employees. Colleges and Universities are asking about criminal history within their applications. In some professions background checks are required by law.  A knowing omission or misrepresentation on an employment application is typically grounds for immediate dismissal while disclosure of the event often means you will not be hired.  Fortunately, in certain instances a prior conviction may be eligible for expungement.

Subject to some limited exceptions, an expungement gives you the legal right to say it never happened.  Rather than trying to explain away a skeleton in your closet, the wiser course may be to consult with an experienced NJ expungement attorney.

The law in New Jersey allows a person to expunge certain crimes and offenses.  A person can receive an expungement for 1 indictable conviction, up to 3 disorderly persons offenses, and a limitless number of township ordinances.  However, certain indictable convictions can never be expunged.  These include homicide, kidnapping, luring or enticing, human trafficking, aggravated sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual contact, criminal sexual contact when the victim is a minor, criminal restraining, false imprisonment, robbery, arson, endangering the welfare of a child, causing or permitting a child to engage in a prohibited sexual act, selling or manufacturing child pornography, perjury, false swearing, knowingly promoting the prostitution of the actor’s child, terrorism, and producing or possessing chemical weapons.

Before a person can receive an expungement there are certain waiting periods that apply.  The clocks starts running after the sentence is complete, this includes any amount of time spent on parole or probation.  A person must wait 10 years to expunge an indictable conviction, 5 years for a disorderly persons offense, and 2 years for a township ordinance.

Expungements are also available following a dismissal.  People often think that if a charge is dismissed in court that the record doesn’t exist.  This isn’t correct.  There would still be a record of the arrest, the charges, and the disposition.  An expungement can help.

A person can expunge not only certain convictions but also arrest records that result in dismissal.  If the dismissal was the result of any kind of deferment program like PTI, a conditional discharge, or a conditional dismissal, then the law requires a 6 month waiting period which begins after the dismissal is entered.  If the dismissal is the result of the prosecutor or judge throwing out the case, then you can immediately apply for an expungement.

The law regarding expungements is very complex with many limitations and exceptions.  The process for obtaining an expungement is long and difficult.  An imperfectly drafted petition for expungement may be grounds for denial and certain courts have been known to hold expungements open for years.

The attorneys at Roberts & Teeter are experienced in New Jersey expungements and can advise you whether you are eligible for an expungement, and if so, they can guide you through the process of obtaining an expungement, sealing your record, and finally putting the matter behind you.


By Michael B. Roberts, Esq.

Sponsored by Colorado DUI

New Law: Conditional Dismissal In New Jersey Municipal Courts

The State passed Assembly Bill 3598 creating a Conditional Dismissal program for New Jersey Municipal Court. The Law goes into effect on January 4, 2014. The program was designed to allow for a conditional dismissal following a one year probationary term for eligible persons accused of certain eligible offenses who have not previously been afforded any other diversion or been convicted of any prior crime or offense. The end result is that so long as the terms of the probation are not violated, the underlying charge will be dismissed and there will be no conviction on your record.


Who is eligible?
Eligible defendants includes those who have not been previously convicted of any petty disorderly persons offense, disorderly persons offense or crime under any law of the United States, New Jersey or any other state, and have not previously participated in a conditional discharge, supervisory treatment, or conditional dismissal program.

What charges qualify?
This is a municipal court program, so it will not apply to indictable crimes. Only certain disorderly persons offenses and petty disorderly persons offenses qualify. The Act excludes the following offenses from qualification:
• organized criminal or gang activity;

• an offense involving a continuing criminal business or enterprise;
• a breach of the public trust by a public officer or employee;
• domestic violence;
• an offense against an elderly, disabled or minor person;
• an offense involving driving or operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or
• any disorderly persons offense involving drugs or drug paraphernalia [because such offenses are
already eligible for dismissal under the conditional discharge program].

Does everyone who is eligible get in?
Not necessarily. Similar to the Pretrial Intervention Program (“PTI”), the Conditional Dismissal Program is initiated at the recommendation of the Prosecutor. However, if the Prosecutor refuses to recommend admission, the Court can still admit the defendant after considering a 10 factor test:
1. The nature of the circumstances of the offense;
2. The facts surrounding the commission of the offense;
3. The motivation, age, character and attitude of the defendant;
4. The desire of the complainant or victim to forego prosecution;
5. The needs and interests of the victim and the community;
6. The extent to which the defendant’s offense constitutes part of a continuing pattern of anti-social
7. Whether the offense is of an assaultive or violent nature, whether in the act itself or in the
possible injurious consequences of such behavior;
8. Whether applicant’s participation will adversely affect the prosecution of codefendants;
9. Whether diversion of the defendant from prosecution is consistent with the public interest; and
10. Any other factors deemed relevant by the Court.

How does it work?
Once a defendant has been recommended for admission by the Prosecutor to the Conditional Dismissal program and the Court consents, the defendant must either plead guilty or be found guilty to the charge. It is unclear whether the defendant must plead guilty to the original charge or whether the defendant can plead to an amended charge. Importantly, the defendant can plead not guilty, take the case to trial, lose, and still apply to the program.

Applicants must pay a $75 application fee plus all additional fees and assessments that the Court imposes. At that point, the applicant begins a one year probationary term where he or she cannot be arrested on any new charges and may be subject to certain conditions of probation such as drug screening, continued employment, or counseling. The Act allows the judge to extend the probationary period longer than one year for good cause. At the end of the probationary term the defendant will be brought back before the Court. If there were no violations of probation and no new arrests then the underlying charge will be dismissed.

What happens if you get arrested during the conditional dismissal period?
Unlike in a conditional discharge program, if you get arrested during a Conditional Dismissal, the case is reopened and goes directly to sentencing because you already pled guilty or were found guilty. The Court can sentence you up to 6 months in jail and impose fines up to $1,000 for each offense.

If I’m Eligible for a Conditional Dismissal Why Do I Need a Lawyer?
First, only a lawyer can properly evaluate the strength of the State’s case and determine whether motions, dismissal, or trial is a preferable option. Second, you can only use the Conditional Dismissal program once, and if you do, then you can never get a conditional discharge or apply for PTI. Third, the Conditional Dismissal program is brand new and the law is not clearly written in every aspect. Likely Prosecutors and Courts in different municipalities will apply the program differently. Some of those differences may benefit the defendant while others may not. A competent lawyer can advocate for you in terms of what charge to plea to, how to elicit a factual basis, and minimize the terms of the probationary period. Third, if the Prosecutor rejects your admission from the Conditional Dismissal program you will need the assistance of an attorney to convince the Judge to admit you to the program over the Prosecutor’s objection. Finally, even you successfully complete the program and the charge is dismissed there will still be a record of your arrest. An attorney can assist you in filing an expungement of the arrest 6 months after completion of the Conditional Dismissal program.

By Michael B. Roberts, Esq.

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Lawyer Matthew Teeter | Lawyer Criminal Defense