NJ Jury Bill Exposes Conviction Risks

Criminal Lawyers Middletown NJ
Rispoli & Borneo P.C.

New Jersey – along with Texas, South Carolina, Maryland, and Pennsylvania – is among the top five most restrictive states when it comes to jury exclusion laws targeting former criminal offenders. Certainly, most people don’t enjoy serving on juries, so the thought of being able to effectively skip jury duty is one that may not seem like a “big deal” collateral consequence of a criminal conviction. However, this exclusion underscores just how tough it can be to have the weight of a criminal conviction around one’s neck. If New Jersey doesn’t allow those convicted of indictable offenses to serve on juries, what other challenges do those with criminal records face in the Garden State?

Sentencing Is Just The Beginning

As our experienced Middletown, NJ criminal lawyers can confirm, in New Jersey, a criminal conviction can result in a series of collateral consequences that extend far beyond the immediate penalties handed down by a court, such as fines, probation, or incarceration. They can affect various aspects of a person’s life, impacting their employment opportunities, housing, and broader civil rights. 

For example, one of the most significant secondary impacts of a criminal conviction can involve employment opportunities. Many professions, particularly those requiring licensing, certification, or security clearance, may be closed off to individuals with certain criminal records. Employers in New Jersey may also have the legal right to inquire about past criminal convictions on job applications, potentially leading to adverse hiring decisions based solely on a criminal record, not current qualifications or rehabilitation.

Convictions can also affect housing opportunities. Individuals with criminal records may face difficulties in renting apartments as landlords often conduct background checks and may deny applications based on past criminal convictions. This can lead to significant challenges in securing stable housing, which is a critical component of successful reintegration into society.

Access to higher education can also be compromised by a criminal record. Some colleges and universities may deny admission based on past criminal convictions, particularly for offenses considered violent or serious. Additionally, financial aid eligibility might be restricted, making it more difficult for those with a criminal background to further their education.

The collateral consequences of a criminal conviction in New Jersey are often far-reaching and can affect nearly every aspect of a person’s life.  Thankfully, it is likely that in the coming months, New Jersey is going to amend its strict jury exclusion approach to allow many formerly convicted persons to serve on juries. However, this is just a small step forward in what needs to be a massive overhaul of how the state treats those who have already served their debt to society. Until that occurs, the best way to avoid sentencing and collateral consequences of a conviction alike is to successfully defend against criminal charges once they have been levied. At Rispoli & Borneo P.C., we know how to get results for our clients. If you or a loved one has been charged with criminal wrongdoing, call today to learn about how we can help.