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Conference and partners to hold expungement clinics

Judge Denise Hartsfield

Conference and partners to hold expungement clinics
February 08
03:00 2018

The Minister’s Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity (MCWSV) has partnered with the Wake Forest University School of Law, the local NAACP and Legal Aid to bring an expungement clinic.  The clinic will be held at the local NAACP office on Saturday, Feb. 24 from 10 a.m. to noon.

There are clinics held twice a month at Samaritan Ministries and Experiment in Self-Reliance, but a specialty clinic will be held in collaboration on the Feb. 24 in collaboration with all of the groups mentioned.

They wanted to hold the clinic to bring awareness to a broader audience, according to Judge Denise Hartsfield.  She said since certain laws were changed at the end of 2017, more individuals might be eligible for expungement.

“This process has taught us that people who are looking for jobs are penalized by a criminal record, period,” said Hartsfield.  “It doesn’t matter what the criminal record says because employers are looking for a reason not to hire you, anyway.”

Hartsfield says even though some charges may have been dismissed or an individual may have been found not guilty, it is still looked upon as negative on someone’s criminal record.  She feels it is “advantageous” for those with these issues to come to the clinics to try and have those erased from their criminal records to improve their chances of getting hired.

“The laws have changed to help people,” she said.  “It is no longer the idea that it is one expungement in a lifetime. It is the idea that you can clean up your record because employers are looking at it and you now have a chance to enter professions and fields that you might not have been able to before.”

Hartsfield wanted those to know that only those charges from Forsyth County will be considered for expungement.  She also wanted to convey that this is not for habitual offenders or violent felonies, as they are not covered in the new statute.  Traffic offenses are not included in this clinic as well.

“The ideal candidate is that person in their early 20s that had a drug charge at the age of 16 and never got into more trouble,” Hartsfield went on to say.  “Young people who have limited things on their record and people who have records with dismissals and not guiltys are also ideal.”

During the clinics the attorneys will take a look at a person’s criminal record and if deemed an acceptable candidate they will bundle the charges together and take it through the expungement process.

Hartsfield says she wanted to get involved with the clinic because she has seen firsthand how criminal records can prevent individuals from gaining employment.

Bishop Todd Fulton of the MCWSV said it is imperative for the conference to involve themselves with things of this nature because it impacts so many.

“I think this could be a win-win scenario for everyone in a sense that, if someone makes a foolish mistake in their younger days, should they be punished for the rest of their lives or do you show them grace as Christians as Jesus has taught us?” Fulton said. 

“It is a beautiful opportunity for us to partner with Wake Forest and the court system to show grace and mercy on them,” he continued.

Fulton says he would like to see the community get involved by getting the word out to those who may be eligible.  He feels this could be a great opportunity to open doors for some that may not have been there previously.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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