Attorneys volunteer to help expunge criminal records for former convicts

People from all over New Jersey headed to Burlington City on Friday to get a clean slate and a second chance.

News 12 Staff

Oct 29, 2021, 8:41 PM

Updated 995 days ago

Share:

People from all over New Jersey headed to Burlington City on Friday to get a clean slate and a second chance.
Attorneys were at the Tabernacle Baptist Church volunteering their time to help get criminal records expunged.
“If this clears my record, it’ll open doors for me,” says Newark resident John Williams.
Williams says that a criminal conviction years ago is still haunting him.
"Even though there was no violent crime done with it - it was just an unregistered gun,” Williams says.
He says that the conviction has prevented him from getting an apartment and a new job.
Attorneys with the Burlington County Bar Association used their day of service to volunteer to do the expungement work for free.
"The attorney is essentially pulling up their record on the computer system and at the same time they're sending information to the prosecutors, who is pulling up the record on their system and then ...they'll talk to the prosecutor and consult with them as well,” says Stephen Hunter, drug court director for the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender. “If the person is eligible, we're going to go ahead and file it right here."
“It’s mostly lower-level offenses, certainly, drug crimes, DUIs, mostly property crimes – non-violent offenses,” say Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina.
Coffina says that the clean slate is a win for both sides.
"I do believe in rehabilitation, I do believe in second chances. And from a public safety in law enforcement perspective, somebody who has better opportunities, which the clean slate will provide them, is less likely to reoffend or to reoffend at all. So, I think there's nothing but good that can come from it,” he says.
Most of the expungement process was completed at the Friday event, but law experts say that it can still take six months to a year for the convictions to be removed completely.


More from News 12