FREEHOLD – Monmouth County Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago is pleased to announce that several agencies are partnering to host the inaugural Monmouth County Free Expungement Clinic in Asbury Park, with members of the Prosecutor’s Office, the Public Defender’s Office, private attorneys, and representatives of other local agencies collaborating to organize and support the event with the goal of offering free legal advice for those who may be eligible to have their record expunged.

Partner organizations supporting the Free Expungement Clinic include the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender, Community Affairs & Resource Center (CARC), Monmouth County Bar Association, Legal Aid Society of Monmouth County, South Jersey Legal Services, New Jersey Reentry Corporation, Asbury Park Housing Authority, Asbury Park Police Department, and the Greater Asbury Park Community Development Initiative (GAPCDI).

“Regardless of which side of the courtroom we appear on, there is no denying that the expungement process as it exists in New Jersey is an invaluable tool that is too seldom leveraged by individuals who managed to turn their lives around after finding themselves involved with the criminal justice system,” Prosecutor Santiago said. “We encourage anyone and everyone who may be interested in having their record expunged to attend this clinic and learn more about the process.”

Monmouth County’s Deputy Public Defender Van W. Lane echoed the sentiments of Prosecutor Santiago, “[t]he Monmouth Region Public Defender unconditionally supports the Monmouth County free expungement clinic scheduled for November 30, 2023 at St. Stephens AME Zion Church in Asbury Park, NJ. The collateral consequences of conviction devastate the hope, potential, and dreams of hundreds of Monmouth County residents daily. This clinic is an answer to the carnage exacted upon the aspirations of too many of our residents. The Public Defender is proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, the Private Bar, the Legal Aid Society, and St Stephens AME Zion Church in this noble action to provide those with a criminal conviction a pathway back to mainstream society.”

The clinic is scheduled to take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday, November 30 at St. Stephen AME Zion Church, under the leadership of Reverend Quavon Newton and located at 1001 Springwood Avenue in Asbury Park. During that time, members of the local community will be free to walk in and meet with volunteer attorneys, with the overarching goal being to assist eligible individuals with the filing of expungement petitions the same day.

An expungement is the removal, sealing, impounding, or isolation of all records pertaining to an eligible individual that are kept on file within any court, detention or correctional facility, or law enforcement or criminal justice agency. A court-ordered expungement can remove information about an eligible individual’s arrest, all court proceedings related to their case, a criminal or juvenile conviction (or convictions), and the outcome of their case, including the sentence.

Asbury Park Mayor John Moor, who also serves as the co-chair of the Greater Asbury Park Community Development Initiative, wanted to stress how important this event could be to City residents and those from surrounding towns.  “As the Mayor of a City ripe with development, the City Council and I have made it a priority to make sure that those working to beautify Asbury Park includes our residents.  Oftentimes, criminal convictions can, unfortunately, be an impediment to our mission.  I am honored, both in my capacity as Mayor and as co-chair of the Greater Asbury Park Community Development Initiative, to partner with our local volunteer attorneys and their respective agencies in furtherance of providing expungement opportunities to those who may not otherwise have the resources to seek that out on their own.“

Many lawyers throughout the County are excited to assist members of the community explore the potential of an expungement.

“The Monmouth County Bar Association proudly supports the outreach efforts of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, the Office of the Public Defender, the Legal Aid Society, and all private attorneys participating in the Monmouth County Expungement Clinic,” said M. Scott Tashjy, Esq., President of the Monmouth County Bar Association. “This public service effort, coordinated by law enforcement, governmental agencies, and private attorneys throughout Monmouth County, exemplifies the best that our legal community is, and has to offer. Please join us in this worthwhile effort to serve Monmouth County communities and residents.”

“As a private criminal defense attorney in Monmouth County for over 40 years and the co-chair of the county Criminal Practice Committee, I applaud and wholeheartedly endorse the cooperative effort of all involved in the Monmouth County expungement clinic,” added Steven Nelson, Esq. “It is a wonderful opportunity for those who have had the stigma of a prior criminal record hamper education, employment, and other opportunities to succeed by clearing their records and paving the way to a better life. I encourage all who have suffered this unfortunate consequence to take advantage of this free clinic without reservation or concern of what a criminal history check will reveal. This public service event is focused on helping the residents of Monmouth County put past indiscretions in the past and achieve future success.”

Greg S. Gargulinksi, a partner in the Law Firm of Rudnick, Addonizio, Pappa and Casazza in Hazlet also added that, “[a]s a private criminal defense attorney for the last 23 years and member of the Monmouth Bar Association Criminal Practice and Municipal Court Practice Committees, I commend Monmouth County Prosecutor Raymond Santiago and Deputy First Assistant Christopher Decker for organizing the expungement clinic on November 30, 2023.  Such an outreach program is truly special, and a reflection of the great work Prosecutor Santiago’s office is doing in the community.”

Attached is a flyer for the event with all relevant details. We encourage anyone looking for an expungement to attend next week’s event.  Attorneys will be available at no cost.