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Important answers to commonly asked legal questions from New Jersey residents

Look at the frequently asked questions (FAQs) about debt relief, foreclosures, bankruptcy filing, asset protection, interest discharge or credit rehabilitation answered by Gloucester county bankruptcy attorney Steve Richardson. See how traffic court lawyer Steve Richardson answers FAQs about arrests for DWI/DUI, speeding, reckless driving, driving while suspended, and other traffic violations.

Click on a question below to see the answer:

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  • Are There NJ Crimes That Cannot Be Expunged?

    People often have a past that they are not proud of, but are holding them back from getting a decent job and rebuilding their lives. New Jersey understand this and provides a procedure whereby a record of arrests and convictions can be wiped out as if they did not exist. This is called an expungement. If you succeed in obtaining one and are later asked if you have ever been arrested, or convicted of a crime, you can truthfully say Yes.

    The Exceptions to the Rule

    But there are exceptions to this procedure. Not all crimes can be expunged. You can get rid of arrests and convictions of local ordinance violations, disorderly or petty disorderly person offenses, and certain indictable offenses. But there are exceptions. They are:

    • Criminal Homicide, except death by auto
    • Kidnapping
    • Luring or Enticing Human Trafficking
    • Aggravated Sexual Assault
    • Aggravated Criminal Sexual Contact
      • If the victim is a minor, Criminal Sexual Contact
      • If the victim is a minor and the offender is not the parent of the victim
    • Criminal Restraint or False Imprisonment
    • Robbery
    • Arson and Related Offenses
    • Endangering the welfare of a child by engaging in sexual conduct which would impair or debauch the morals of the child
    • Endangering the welfare of a child
    • Causing or permitting a child to engage in a prohibited sexual act
    • Selling or manufacturing child pornography
    • Perjury or False Swearing
    • Knowingly promoting the prostitution of the actors child
    • Terrorism
    • Producing or Possessing Chemical Weapons, Biological Agents or Nuclear or Radiological Devices
    • Conspiracies or attempts to commit such crimes.

    Drug-Related Crimes

    Crimes involving the sale or distribution of drugs (or possession with intent to sell) cannot be expunged, except:

    • Marijuana, where the total quantity sold, distributed or possessed with intent to sell was 25 grams or less;
    • Hashish, where the total quantity sold, distributed or possessed with intent to sell was five grams or less; or
    • Any controlled dangerous substance provided that the conviction is of the third or fourth degree, where the court finds that expungement is consistent with the public interest, giving due consideration to the nature of the offense and the petitioners character and conduct since conviction.

    Crimes Committed in Public Office

    Also, if you hold any public office, position or employment, elective or appointive, under the government of this State or any agency or political subdivision thereof and commit a crime or are involved in any conspiracy or attempt to commit such a crime, and that crime involved or touched such office, position or employment. they cannot be expunged.

    I Can Help You Start Fresh!

    If you are looking to expunge some arrests and/or convictions in your past, and you live in the Gloucester County, New Jersey area, please feel free to call me at 856-432-4113 or contact me through this site to schedule an appointment for a free consultation in my Woodbury office. Don’t let your past hold you back from a better future!

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  • Why Should I File Bankruptcy If I Am Judgment Proof?

    This is a question I get a lot from someone here in New Jersey who is in such bad financial shape that there is nothing that their creditors can do to them. They are, for all intents and purposes, "judgment proof." This is because:

    • They either have no income, or that income is from a source that cannot be garnished, such as Social Security benefits, unemployment benefits, a pension, child support, and the like.
    • They have less than $1,000 in their bank account, or that money is from sources such as those listed above.
    • They do not own real estate, such as a home.
    • They do not own any assets of any significant value, such as a car.

    As such, they see no need for bankruptcy because they do not perceive any benefit to it. They are wrong.

    Being Judgment Proof Is the Perfect Time to File!

    Yes, that's right; now is the best time to do it, and as such, there is value in filing bankruptcy when you are judgment proof! Few people, hopefully, are going to be judgment proof forever. They find employment, buy a home, and turn their lives around. In short, things get better.

    When that happens, do you want to have some creditor take money out of your paycheck, freeze your bank account so that the mortgage payment bounces, or seize your car? No way!

    Think about it. Right now there is little or no risk to filing bankruptcy; you don't own anything! There is no home to lose to the trustee, no income to go to creditors in monthly payments, and no big tax refund to be taken away. Filing bankruptcy when you are judgment proof is insurance against better times. Get rid of your debt now, so that it won't weigh you down when things get better.

    Let Me Help You Through It!

    If you live in Gloucester County, New Jersey or the surrounding area, and are considering filing bankruptcy, please feel free to call me at 856-432-4113 or contact me through this site for a free consultation in my Woodbury office to discuss your case.

    If you have more questions about bankruptcy, then download my free book,Top Questions People Ask About Filing Bankruptcy in New Jersey.

    If you are looking for more information on how bankruptcy might help you with your divorce, then you should download my free book, Top Questions Divorcing Couples Ask About NJ Bankruptcy.

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  • Can I Use the Money from a Graduate PLUS Loan for Housing?

    Yes, you can. Whether it is for undergraduate or graduate school, people borrow money to cover the cost of attendance at that school, and those costs can include many different things. A U.S. Department of Education publication, Your Federal Student Loans: Learn the Basics and Manage Your Debt states that,

    "you may use the money you receive only to pay for education expenses at the school that awarded your loan. Education expenses include such school charges as tuition, room and board, fees, books, supplies, equipment, dependent child care expenses, transportation, and rental or purchase of a personal computer."

    For additional information, you should talk to someone at the financial aid office at your school.

    Many people think that for graduate school, housing is not included. This is not true. Sometimes the best graduate or professional school is in another state, and you will need housing and accommodations while classes are in session.

    As part of your fiunancial aid plan, you should carefully consider all of the costs of attendance at that school to be sure you have enough funds to cover them. As you can see from the quote above, many different things can be considered as a part of the cost, and you don't want to miss one.

    More Information

    If you are looking for more information about federal financial aid for college, then download my free book, Applying for Federal Financial Aid: The Definitive Guide for Students and Parents.

    For more information about what happens after you graduate, get my free book, I Graduated; Now What? A Guide to Dealing with Your Student Loans.

    You can also access the latest news on student loans, get answers to Frequently Asked Questions, and read articles in my Library. Continue to educate yourself as you go through the process of making smart decisions about college financing!

  • Can I Be Arrested in NJ For Not Paying a Debt?

    No, you can’t. There is no debtor’s prison here in New Jersey where you end up if you do not pay a bill. Collection is a civil, not criminal, matter and people that end up in debt do not end up behind bars.

    Unless . . .

    There are two exceptions to this. The first is where you pay for something by check, that check bounces, and you do not make good on it within 10 days of a demand to do so by the creditor. Even then, the tendering of the check in payment must be simultaneous with the purchase of the good or services. It does not apply if it happens when the check fails to clear in payment of a pre-existing debt, like a credit card balance.

    The second is where you fail to respond to a New Jersey Information Subpoena. Here, you were sent a court document demanding that you reveal your assets, like bank accounts and jobs. If you do not respond, you are in contempt of court and can be arrested for that. Even then, upon arrest, the judge will just insist that you fill out the form and only throw you in jail if it is necessary to force you to do so.

    Debt Collectors Lie

    The sad thing is that debt collectors use this threat all the time to scare people into paying. If someone says this to you, they are lying! This is not only because of what I have just said, but also because collection agencies can’t send information subpoenas. They are only sent by law firms that have obtained a judgment against you by bringing a law suit!

    The key is to know your rights and stand up to the debt collector bullies. They lie, and when they do, they can be sued for violating your rights. It is called the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and it is a powerful shield. Don’t let them push you around.

    I Can Help

    If you live in the Gloucester County, New Jersey, area, and you are being threatened by debt collectors, I may be able to help. Please feel free to call me at 856-432-4113 or contact me through this site to schedule an appointment to come in. I have represented creditors for many years and am familiar with the collection industry and how it ticks. Put my experience to work for you!

    Want more information on how to fight back with your creditors? Then download my free book, The Biggest Secrets Your Creditors Don't Want You to Know. Become empowered and protect your rights!

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  • What Is the Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) Plan for Federal Student Loans?

    Effective on December 16, 2015, the Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) plan helps borrowers of federal student loans with a third income driven repayment option. In effect, it extends the benefits of the PAYE plan, but does have some downsides.

    The PAYE plan modified the Income Based Repayment (IBR) plan by shortening the repayment period from 25 to 20 years and lowering the cap on monthly payments from 25 years to 20 years. In addition, you would never pay more per month than a 10 year fixed repayment plan.

    But this deal is not available to everyone. Older borrowers are out of luck. In order to qualify, you must not have any outstanding federal student loan balances as of October 1, 2007, and have taken distribution on a student loan after October 1, 2011. In essence, this plan was for newer borrowers, those in school at the time the program was released.

    How is REPAYE Different Than PAYE?

    What REPAYE does is make PAYE available to everyone by removing these restrictions. But there are some downsides that need to be considered, as there are some differences between PAYE and REPAYE. They are:

    • There is no cap on the monthly payment equal to the payment on a 10 year fixed repayment plan; it will always be 10% of your disposable income. So if your income rises to the point where you can pay more than that amount, you will be required to do so.
    • If you are married, your spouse’s income must be included in the calculations. Under IBR and PAYE, married couples can file separate tax returns, and borrowers can use only their Adjusted Gross Income (AGI). Under PAYE, you cannot.
    • The 20 year repayment period in REPAYE only applies to undergraduate loans; loans for professional schools (e.g. law or medicine) or graduate schools have a 25 year repayment period. Under PAYE (and IBR for loans taken out after July 1, 2014) the repayment period is 20 years for all of them.

    The REPAYE plan can be helpful to some people, but not for everyone. Anyone considering it should consult with a student loan professional to see if it is right for them, as every situation is different.

    I Can Help

    If you live in southern New Jersey and are looking for a more affordable repayment plan, please feel free to call my office at 856-432-4113 or contact me through this site to schedule an appointment in my Woodbury office to discuss your case.

    If you would like more information about student loans, you can dowload my free book, I Graduated; Now What? A Guide to Dealing with Your Student Loans.

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  • What Are the Restrictions on a NJ Probationary License?

    In New Jersey, if a person is either under 21 years old or has never had a driver license, he or she is required to complete a period of supervised driving before getting a basic driver license. This Graduated Driver License (GDL) program introduces driving privileges in phases.

    These GDLs have certain restrictions that must be observed, depending on the step in the learning process and type of license held.The second step in the learning process, after the learner's permit, is the issuance of the Probationary License, most often issued to young drivers at age 17.

    GDL Restrictions

    There are several restrictions on these permits, and those that hold them would do well to know what they are and observe them. As of May 10, 2010, they are:

    • Display a reflectorized decal on each license plate (front/back);
    • No driving after 11:01 p.m. and before 5:00 a.m.
    • Parent(s), guardian(s) or dependant(s) are allowed as passengers. A dependant is a permit or probationary driver's child, not siblings.
    • Only one additional passenger is allowed unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.
    • You can't use cell phones, hand held video games or any other hands-free interactive, wireless communication device.
    • Seat belts must be worn at all times.

    Each level has restrictions that must be adhered to by the license holder, and failure to do so carries consequences.  However, upon completion of all the steps in the program, drivers are awarded an unrestricted basic driver license.

    What if you get a ticket?

    Anyone holding a probationary license must be very careful, as traffic violations can have increased consequences, not the least of which is the inability to eliminate points by pleading to "Unsafe Operation."

    If you have received a ticket in Camden, Gloucester, or Salem County while holding a GDL, call my office at 856-432-4113 or contact me through this site to discuss your options.  You don't want to end up losing the license you just got!

    Want to Avoid Getting One?

    If you hold a GDL, or are the parent of someone who does, and would like further information on New Jersey's traffic laws in order to avoid getting a ticket that carries points, download my free book, A Guide to Driving Legally in New Jersey and Surviving Traffic Court If You Don't.  

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  • What Are the Restrictions on a NJ Student Learner's Permit?

    In New Jersey, if a person is either under 21 years old or has never had a driver license, he or she is required to complete a period of supervised driving before getting a basic driver license. This Graduated Driver License (GDL) program introduces driving privileges in phases.

    These GDLs have certain restrictions that must be observed, depending on the step in the learning process and type of license held.The first step in the learning process is the issuance of the Student Learner's Permit, most often issued to young drivers at age 16.

    Permit Restrictions

    There are several restrictions on these permits, and those that hold them would do well to know what they are and observe them. As of May 10, 2010, they are:

    • Display a reflectorized decal on each license plate (front/back)
    • No driving after 11:01 p.m. and before 5:00 a.m.
    • You must be accompanied in the front seat by an adult supervising driver who is at least 21 years of age and who possesses a valid New Jersey driver license and has a minimum of three years driving experience.
    • Parent(s), guardian(s) or dependant(s) are allowed as passengers. A dependant is a permit or probationary driver's child, not siblings.
    • Only one additional passenger is allowed unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.
    • You can't use cell phones, hand held video games or any other hands-free interactive, wireless communication device.
    • Seat belts must be worn at all times

    What if you get a ticket?

    Anyone holding a probationary license must be very careful, as traffic violations can have increased consequences, not the least of which is the inability to eliminate points by pleading to "Unsafe Operation."

    If you have received a ticket in Camden, Gloucester, or Salem County while holding a GDL, call my office at 856-432-4113 or contact me through this site to discuss your options.  You don't want to end up losing the license you just got!

    Want to Avoid Getting One?

    If you hold a GDL, or are the parent of someone who does, and would like further information on New Jersey's traffic laws in order to avoid getting a ticket that carries points, download my free book, A Guide to Driving Legally in New Jersey and Surviving Traffic Court If You Don't.

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  • Do I Have to File Bankruptcy in NJ if I Have NJ Surcharges?

    One reason a lot of people in New Jersey end up filing bankruptcy is that they have a large amount of surcharges levied by the Motor Vehicle Commission. Repayment can be difficult, as there is often a demand for a large an unaffordable downpayment. To make matters worse, their driver’s license can end up being suspended!

    Bankruptcy can help by allowing for the discharge of the amount owed and the restoration of a suspended license. But what if you no longer live in New Jersey? What if this has followed you to another state and is interfering with you getting a license there? Can you file in your new state of residence or must you file in New Jersey?

    The answer is no, you do not have to file the bankruptcy in New Jersey just because you owe surcharges here; you can file in your state of residence. The NJ Motor Vehicle Commission is a creditor like any other and just has to be listed and noticed.

    Still Living in New Jersey?

    If you live in southern New Jersey and are considering filing bankruptcy, please feel free to call me at 856-432-4113 or contact me through this site for a free consultation in my Woodbury office to discuss your case.

    If you have more questions about bankruptcy, then download my free book,Top Questions People Ask About Filing Bankruptcy in New Jersey.

    If you are looking for more information on how bankruptcy might help you with your divorce, then you should download my free book, Top Questions Divorcing Couples Ask About NJ Bankruptcy.

  • What is a Graduate PLUS Student Loan?

    Are you looking to go to graduate school after college? How about medical or law school? If so, and you are looking for ways to pay for it, you should consider a Graduate PLUS loan from the U.S. Department of Education.

    How Do I Get One?

    Yes, the federal Department of Education lends money to graduate students as well! All you need to get one is be a graduate or professional degree student enrolled at least half time and meet the general eligibility requirements for federal student aid.

    These loans are credit based, so a credit check will be done. Even if you have an adverse credit history, you can still get a loan. This can be done by either securing an endorser (i.e. a cosigner with a good credit history) or providing proof of extenuating circumstances relating to the adverse credit history.

    If you still cannot get a loan, you may be eligible for additional unsubsidized loans if you have not reached the total lending limit.

    Another great feature is that there is no maximum for this type of loan. You can get the difference between the cost of attendance and any other financial assistance received!

    Can I Get an In-School Deferment?

    Although the loan falls due once the funds are disbursed, the loan is placed into deferment while you are enrolled at least half time and for an additional 6 months after you graduate or drop below half time.

    You should note, however, that interest will accrue during deferment and capitalize into principal unless you make arrangements to pay the interest during the deferment.

    Graduate PLUS loans can also be repaid using any of the many repayment options offered by the Department of Education, including Income Based Repayment (IBR).

    More Information

    If you are looking for more information about federal financial aid for college, then download my free book, Applying for Federal Financial Aid: The Definitive Guide for Students and Parents.

    For more information about what happens after you graduate, get my free book, I Graduated; Now What? A Guide to Dealing with Your Student Loans.

    You can also access the latest news on student loans, get answers to Frequently Asked Questions, and read articles in my Library. Continue to educate yourself as you go through the process of making smart decisions about college financing!

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  • What is a Parent PLUS Student Loan?

    Has your child received all the qualifying loans and grants he or she can get? Is there still a balance due on the cost of attendance, and you do not have it in your bank account? If so, rather than go to a private or state loan, you should look into a Parent PLUS loan!

    How Do I Qualify for One?

    Yes, the federal Department of Education lends money to parents of students as well! All you need to get one is a child who is a dependent undergraduate student enrolled at least half time and meet the general eligibility requirements for federal student aid.

    These loans are credit based, so a credit check will be done. Even if you have an adverse credit history, you can still get a loan. This can be done by either securing an endorser (i.e. a cosigner with a good credit history) who is not your child or providing proof of extenuating circumstances relating to the adverse credit history. If you still cannot get a loan, your child may be eligible for additional unsubsidized loans.

    Another great feature is that there is no maximum for this type of loan. You can get the difference between the cost of attendance and any other financial assistance received!

    Beware No Automatic Deferment!

    Beware that the loan falls due once the funds are disbursed! There is no automatic in-school deferment, as with your child’s loans. However, you can contact your loan servicer to request a deferment.

    In-school deferments can be requested while your child is enrolled at least half time and for an additional 6 months after your child is no longer enrolled at least half time. Also note that interest will accrue during deferment and capitalize into principal unless you make arrangements to pay the interest during the deferment.

    Choose Parent PLUS Before Private!

    These loans are a great way to close a “funding gap” for your child’s education. You should exhaust this option before considering any state or private loans. Parent PLUS loans can also be repaid using any of the many repayment options offered by the Department of Education, including Income Contingent Repayment (ICR).

    More Information

    If you are looking for more information about federal financial aid for college, then download my free book, Applying for Federal Financial Aid: The Definitive Guide for Students and Parents.

    For more information about what happens after you graduate, get my free book, I Graduated; Now What? A Guide to Dealing with Your Student Loans.

    You can also access the latest news on student loans, get answers to Frequently Asked Questions, and read articles in my Library. Continue to educate yourself as you go through the process of making smart decisions about college financing!

    Related Topics