“I love bringing things to life.” Whether it’s creating something for a friend, the bulletin boards at her church, or arts & crafts time with her daughter, Moniek loves spending her free time working with her hands. But that precious free time is hard to come by as she fills her busy life taking care of her 1-year-old daughter, her birth mother and the mother who raised her, as well as working as a dental assistant.
It was her work as a dental assistant that brought her to Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy. As she began to prepare for her national dental board exams, her instructor expressed concern that Moniek’s past might impact whether she could take the tests. These concerns were not new to Moniek.
Since the age of 15, Moniek had difficulty finding employment because employers were unwilling to overlook her juvenile criminal record.
“I was a child, I was crazy, and I didn’t want to listen to anyone. But I’m not that person anymore.”
She determined her juvenile record would not impact her dental board exams, but Moniek did not want the charges hanging over her head any longer. Having investigated the expunction process before, Moniek knew she needed a lawyer, an expense she could not afford. She decided to contact the Advocacy Center where she connected with a pro bono attorney from Robinson Bradshaw, Blaine Sanders. Blaine is helping Moniek get her juvenile record expunged, creating a future Moniek did not think was possible.
For many North Carolinians, criminal records can spark collateral consequences by limiting a person’s housing, employment, and other opportunities. By removing those barriers, expunction has proven to have a significant impact on an individual’s economic opportunity. Research also shows expunction can lead to increased wages and reduces the possibility of a person receiving another charge or being incarcerated.
For Moniek, it personally meant she could confidently apply to dental hygienist school and be proud of the example she was setting for her daughter.
“I know I’ve made mistakes, but there was light at the end of the tunnel. I want people to know that the person you are in the past does not have to define who you are in the moment, or the person you could become in the future.”