Mental Health and Your Legal Rights: Finding Peace of Mind

You can learn something new every day.

I have been a practicing attorney for over 25 years. In that time, I have helped countless clients solve varied problems, however, I have never been asked to assist to expunge a mental health history. During a consultation phone call, a prospective client was seeking to secure legal services to do just that. My initial response was it could not be done. I stand corrected.

Within this brief discovery stage, when an attorney and prospective client share information, it was clear that this individual had researched this area of the law quite thoroughly. Through further conversation and legal fact checking, I learned about N.J.S.A. 30:4-80.8, New Jersey’s law relating to the expungement of mental health commitment records. This law was enacted to remove any stigmas attached to individuals who may have been committed to a psychiatric hospital. This individual was seeking legal assistance to expunge mental health records for a voluntary psychiatric hospitalization. Though experienced with criminal record expungements, mental health expungements were a new area for me to explore.

At Sapiro Gottlieb & Kroll, it is our mission to “focus on the needs of individuals and small business.” We pride ourselves on providing comprehensive legal services to our clients to help them solve tangible problems that affect their daily lives. We believe keeping the focus on positive mental health is a priority. In this case, the prospective client was looking for employment but was concerned about the potential stigma of a voluntary psychiatric hospitalization. As a result, there is indeed a mechanism to apply to the Court for an Order “expunging” the record of a psychiatric hospitalization, essentially erasing the hospitalization from your history. If asked, you can truthfully say you were never hospitalized. I shared with this individual that although I had not come across a similar request before, I was confident based on my experience with expungements and the clarity of the mental health expungement law, SGKLegal would be on their side.

It is my hope, to not only be able to call this individual a future client, but to have earned their respect and trust. I am proud this client provided this learning experience, as I am eager to share this information with others who may not have been aware of the option to essentially “erase the past.”