2020 Expunction Clinics Kick Off with Help of Triage Partners

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy kicked off its 2020 expunction clinics Jan. 22 with volunteers from the Charlotte Triage Pro Bono Partnership to help 15 Mecklenburg County residents apply to have their criminal records expunged.

An expunction (also called an “expungement”) removes minor offenses and misdemeanors on one’s criminal record that create significant barriers to economic stability and opportunity.

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy helps low-income Mecklenburg County residents get their criminal records expunged allowing them to pursue a broader range of economic opportunities.

The expunction clinic was the first of six to be held this year.

“This is a breath of fresh air,” said Bernard, who had been working toward a new start before coming to the clinic for help.

He heard about the expunction clinic and registered through Running Works, a Charlotte nonprofit that empowers individuals and families to break cycles of abuse, abandonment, neglect, poverty and homelessness through running, career development services, counseling, group therapy and housing initiatives.

“What I needed the most was to clean up my record instead of giving up,” he said.

Now Bernard is waiting to learn if his application will be approved.

Bernard is one of more than 2 million North Carolina residents living with a criminal record. Too often, these individuals are automatically denied employment, housing, and other opportunities, based on past involvement with the criminal justice system, including dismissed charges and long-ago convictions.

As part of its 2020 Advocacy Agenda, the Advocacy Center supports legislative efforts to expand eligibility for expunctions, such as The Second Chance Act, which passed with bipartisan support in the N.C. Senate last year. We are hopeful that the N.C. House of Representatives will consider and approve this legislation this spring.

Through our individual representation and advocacy, the Advocacy Center seeks to help people with criminal records have a fair chance at productive citizenship.

Special thanks to Lara Nichols and Ann Warren of Duke Energy; Kevin Denny and Justin Knapp of McGuireWoods LLP; Abigail Williams of K&L Gates LLP; Katie Clarke and Fern Patterson of Parker Poe; and Chad Crockford of Wells Fargo for volunteering their time through the Charlotte Triage Pro Bono Partnership.

Wondering if you are eligible to clean up your criminal record?

Mecklenburg County residents can learn more and register for our upcoming clinics by calling 704-376-1600 ext. 510.

Registration is required to receive assistance. Applicants must not have any pending criminal charges.

Action Alert: Let’s Give N.C. A Second Chance

For people with a criminal record, second chances are hard to come by.

But the N.C. General Assembly can change that narrative for more than 2 million North Carolinians living with criminal records.

The N.C. Senate unanimously passed The Second Chance Act (Senate Bill 562)earlier this month. The bipartisan legislation, which is now before the N.C. House, would expand eligibility for expungements, a court process that seals criminal records from public view.

“Our neighbors deserve second chances, and our community will be made stronger if we grant them.” 

Natalia Botella, attorney, Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy



Why this matters

1 in 4 Americans has a criminal record, including 2 million+ North Carolinians These individuals spend YEARS trying to overcome past mistakes to lead productive lives as law abiding citizens.

Criminal records are barriers to jobs, housing, and opportunity because criminal background checks and stigma automatically exclude where people can live and work, even if an offense is a misdemeanor.

If our community is serious about addressing equity and access to opportunity, we must expand eligibility for expungements. Currently, more than 90 percent of expungements granted are for charges that never resulted in a conviction. 

Expungements expand access to a wider range of jobs and higher wages, which reduces the likelihood to turn to crime out of desperation.

N.C. will gain more tax revenue, make communities safer and reduce the costs of a revolving door criminal justice system.

What the legislation does

Automatic Relief: The Act would automatically expunge criminal charges that have been dismissed or disposed of as “not guilty” after July 1, 2020.

Expands Eligibility: It would also allow people to petition to have certain non-violent convictions expunged after 5- or 10-years good behavior, depending on the offense.

Relief for Juvenile Offenders: The Act would allow people with eligible convictions that occurred when a person was 16 or 17 years old prior to Dec. 1, 2019 to petition for an expungement, giving them the same rights as juveniles protected under the “Raise the Age” law.

Gives Prosecutors Discretion to Initiate Relief: Under the proposal, district attorneys would have the option to initiate certain expungement petitions, without relying on the individual to start the process.

What you can do

Thank your N.C. Senators! Contact your Senators and The Second Chance Act’s primary sponsors, Sen. Danny BrittSen. Warren Daniel and Sen. Floyd McKissick.

Tell your Representatives in the N.C. House to pass legislation that expands eligibility for expungements.

Learn about us. Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy’s expungement project for ex-offenders opens the doors of opportunity for hundreds of Mecklenburg County residents. 

Share this message with your networks.

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