The ACLU of New Jersey is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization devoted to defending the principles of freedom, justice, and equality guaranteed by our state and federal constitutions and laws.  

To request legal assistance, please complete our online form.

You can also mail your request to:  

Intake Mail Manager  
P.O. Box 32159  
Newark, NJ 07102 

For matters that occurred outside of New Jersey, please visit the ACLU affiliate directory

How do we choose cases?  

We review every request, but the ACLU-NJ provides direct representation to only a small number of clients, in cases with the potential to set legal precedents for civil liberties. Some of the issues we look for relate to: 

  • Freedom of speech or censorship 
  • Racial equity 
  • Immigrants’ rights 
  • LGBTQ+ rights 
  • Police practices and illegal searches & arrests 
  • Decarceration 
  • Deprivations of due process for incarcerated people 
  • Voting rights 
  • Reproductive rights 
  • Student rights and youth justice  
  • Religious liberty 

The ACLU of New Jersey reviews each of the thousands of requests we receive for legal assistance each year, but limited staff and resources mean we cannot respond to most of them. Even if our office doesn’t pursue your complaint, it doesn't mean your complaint is without merit. 

What types of cases don’t we take? 

The ACLU of New Jersey is not a government agency or a general legal services organization, and we do not handle matters outside of New Jersey. We do not dispense general legal advice, provide emergency services, or make referrals to attorneys. Because we do not have independent investigative resources, we tend to take cases that do not involve complicated disputes of fact.  

Generally, the ACLU does not assist in the types of cases listed below, though there are exceptions: 

  • Criminal defense or post-conviction appeals 
  • Divorce or child custody disputes 
  • Property disputes 
  • Tax problems 
  • Consumer complaints 
  • Landlord-tenant disputes 
  • Building code issues 
  • Complaints about lawyers or judges 

What should I include when submitting a request for assistance? 

Describe in your own words what happened to you, including dates, places, and the names and titles of the people directly involved.  

Keep in mind these types of questions as you describe what happened: 

  • How were your rights violated? 
  • What explanation, if any, was given for what happened? 
  • Why do you think this happened to you? 
  • Have you taken any steps to resolve this issue, and were there any results? For instance: filing a grievance, contacting another agency or organization, or going through an appeals process. 
  • What would you like the ACLU to do concerning this matter? 
  • What documentation do you have on the matter? Please do not send us your documents – instead, include a list of what materials you have. 
  • Are you represented by an attorney in the matter? If an attorney is representing you in the matter you’re writing about, you must have your attorney contact us directly rather than contacting us yourself. 
  • If you are writing on behalf of another person, please provide the person's name, your relationship to them, and any contact information you have for them. 

The ACLU of New Jersey maintains the confidentiality of all information we receive. We may wish to share this information with other legal organizations while investigating complaints, but we will always seek your permission before doing so. 

What does help from the ACLU-NJ cost? 

ACLU assistance, including litigation, is free of charge to the people we help.  

The ACLU-NJ’s work relies mainly on individual donations. We carefully review and consider all requests for assistance; donors are never given special consideration. 

What other resources exist? 

If you are looking for an attorney, you may contact your county bar association for a referral. The New Jersey State Bar Foundation also provides a list of government resources and legal resources

If you are looking for free legal assistance with a civil matter, you can contact Legal Services of New Jersey, which provides services to qualifying low-income residents. For criminal matters, you can contact the Office of the Public Defender

The New Jersey State Bar Foundation, Legal Services of New Jersey, and the New Jersey State Judiciary provide publications regarding various legal topics. 

Can the ACLU advise me about my case? 

Unless we accept your case, the ACLU cannot give you legal advice, answer questions, or provide other types of assistance – for example, reviewing papers or conducting legal research. The organization focuses its resources on the cases we do accept. 

If you are presently represented by an attorney, legal ethics prohibit us from talking with you about your case without your attorney’s permission. If you believe your case merits the ACLU’s attention, you should discuss it with your attorney and have the attorney contact us directly. 

Can you tell me what the deadlines are for my legal claims? 

All legal claims have time deadlines, which may differ depending on who may have violated your rights and how – but we cannot give advice on deadlines that apply to your case. For some violations, you may need to file a claim with a government agency before you can sue, and these agencies may have their own deadlines. If you try to take legal action outside of a statute of limitations, you may not be able to pursue your claim in court. The ACLU cannot give you advice about deadlines that may apply. 

If I contact the ACLU, does that mean I’m a client? 

No, contacting the ACLU does not mean that the ACLU represents you and does not stop the statute of limitations from running.