In New Jersey, it is possible to have a criminal record even if you did not actively commit a crime. According to the state's criminal statutes, an individual may be held accountable for a crime if they knowingly influenced the criminal actions of other people. In New Jersey, aiding and abetting falls into this category. Some examples include coercing someone to commit a crime, acting as an accomplice in a crime, or conspiring with someone to commit a crime.
Even if you did not actively engage in a criminal act yourself, in the state of New Jersey you can be found guilty and receive the same punishment as the person who committed the crime. If you've been convicted of aiding and abetting, this likely means you have either a felony or misdemeanor criminal record that can limit employment, housing, education, and other opportunities. Getting your criminal record expunged may help you move forward with your life – but it can be a lengthy and complicated process. Before getting started, it's important to know your rights and whether you are eligible for expungement.
What Are the Consequences for Aiding and Abetting?
According to New Jersey law, aiding and abetting is considered an “inchoate” or incomplete crime, which is similar to conspiracy or solicitations. An “inchoate” crime typically refers to an offense that has been attempted or preparations that have been made to commit a crime. During prosecution, an individual charged with aiding and abetting will face the same consequences as the person who committed the actual crime. First, the prosecution must prove that the defendant was willfully involved in the criminal act.
Regarding charges, a person found guilty of aiding and abetting will receive the same sentence as if they had actually committed the crime themselves. For example, if you were acting as an accomplice in a robbery and you willfully associated with the principal actors and wanted the crime to take place, you can still be charged with that crime. This is true even if you were not on the premises when the crime actually occurred or you merely acted as a lookout or getaway driver. The same is true for other types of offenses, meaning aiding and abetting a crime can leave you with life-altering consequences such as prison or jail time and hefty fines.
Being charged with aiding and abetting in New Jersey can also leave you with a criminal record that can diminish your chance to secure a gainful career and stable housing, as well as other opportunities for professional success and personal advancement. This is why expungement is so beneficial. The process allows you to demonstrate to the courts that you've completed your sentence and reformed your life, opening the door to countless ways to improve your circumstances for you and your family.
How Does Expungement Work in New Jersey?
The New Jersey Criminal Code of Justice allows certain criminal offenses to be erased from your record. The general purpose behind this approach is to help individuals who are younger move forward with their lives after they are appropriately punished by New Jersey, such as through imprisonment, fines, and/or probation. Lawmakers believe certain individuals can be reformed and that having a criminal record makes their already difficult life worse.
Not all criminal convictions are eligible for expungement in New Jersey – and that applies to aiding and abetting as well. Ineligible crimes include:
- Kidnapping and related offenses
- Sexual offenses
- Endangering the welfare of children
- Certain types of drug-related offenses
To have your record expunged, you'll need to locate all relevant records and then petition the court for expungement in the county where you were arrested. The process can be lengthy and complicated – as well as require significant amounts of paperwork and investigation. An experienced attorney can help with these time-consuming and often overwhelming procedures. Having legal representation gives you the best shot at getting your life back.
Are You Eligible for Expungement in New Jersey?
The majority of indictable adult offenders are eligible for expungement after six years, assuming all conditions of the case were satisfied. To qualify, the individual must not have had subsequent criminal convictions or four or more disorderly person offenses or petty disorderly person offenses. Those wishing to apply may do so in the court where the conviction occurred.
Some individuals may be eligible for expungement when only five years have elapsed if all conditions of the conviction were satisfied. To qualify, the individual must not have had any subsequent convictions, including any disorderly person or petty disorderly person offenses. The decision to allow for expungement under these circumstances is based on the court's discretion.
Other individuals may also qualify for expungement, though this is based on the court's discretion and takes into account the severity of the offenses and other factors. If you have been convicted of a crime and you are uncertain whether you are eligible for expungement, it will be helpful to speak with an experienced attorney.
Who Can Access My Criminal Record After Expungement?
Having your record expunged hides certain criminal convictions from the public, meaning they will not show up in most background checks. In many cases, this allows an individual to get on with their life without the specter of their criminal past hanging over them. Expungement can offer someone a new start and peace of mind, as well as the ability to pursue opportunities they could not when they had a criminal record.
After having your record expunged, when you are asked if you've ever been convicted of a crime, you can legally say that you have not. Because applications for most jobs and housing include a criminal background check, having your record erased from public view can be enormously helpful toward moving on with your life and not letting one bad mistake determine your future.
Curious About Expungement? An Experienced Attorney Can Help
Aiding and abetting is a serious criminal offense that carries significant consequences – but one mistake does not have to define the rest of your life. Working with an experienced attorney to get your criminal record expunged in New Jersey will drastically increase your likelihood of success. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm are here to help. To discuss the details of your case, contact the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686.