If you have ever rightfully or wrongfully been accused of a crime, you may have been surprised to learn how hard it is to clear your name. Even if you have been ruled innocent, courts may be reluctant to take the steps necessary to remove arrests and convictions from your criminal background.

In April of last year, the process got a little easier. The NJ Statute on Expungement was revised last year, and attorney Kenneth Vercammen says the changes have expanded the abilities of residents to have their records expunged.

Vercammen will give a free talk on removing and expunging criminal arrests and convictions on Monday, January 23 from 7 to 7:45 p.m. the South Brunswick Library

Vercammen, (U.S. 1, October 12, 2016) says if someone has been arrested or even had a private criminal complaint signed against them in the municipal court, they have a criminal record, even if the charges were dismissed or received a conditional discharge under state law. However, past criminal arrests and convictions can be expunged or erased under certain instances. Vercammen’s program will discuss the expungement process.

He grew up in Edison, where his father was an engineer who supervised a factory and his mother was a secretary. A graduate of the Widener University School of Law, Vercammen is based in Edison. His practice includes work in criminal defense, estate planning, probate, and personal injury.

“I served as a municipal prosecutor and was amazed how minor criminal guilty pleas and even dismissed charges can affect someone’s ability to get a job or advance a career,” Vercammen says.

Vercammen says the revised expungement statute even has a provision that makes it a crime to talk about the arrest of someone whose records have been expunged.

“There is a section that says it can be a disorderly persons offense to reveal something that has been expunged and is still out there,” Vercammen says. “There is no case law yet on that issue but there will be eventually.”

Suppose you were arrested years ago for a minor crime that was later expunged, and when you Google your name, up comes a police blotter item about the arrest from the archive of a local newspaper. Does this law mean you can force the news media to take it down? Maybe. Vercammen believes it’s only a matter of time before that scenario is tested by someone with an expunged record and enough money to pursue a court case.

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