Crime

New service could wipe clean criminal records

Mecklenburg County and the Charlotte School of Law will help qualified residents clean up their criminal records
Mecklenburg County and the Charlotte School of Law will help qualified residents clean up their criminal records

Write this number down: 704-971-8382.

It’s Mecklenburg County’s new “Expunction Line.” That’s a funny way of saying this: If you qualify, you now have the chance to scrub off at least part or maybe all of your criminal record.

For the first time, the county’s SelfServe Center has joined with the Charlotte School of Law to offer an upcoming clinic to have certain criminal charges removed once and for all.

Which brings us back to the “Expunction Line.” Call it this week if you want to participate. A voicemail will ask you to spell your first and last names, and also to leave a birthdate and a return phone number. The county will then do a criminal background check to determine eligibility.

Those who qualify will be invited to the upcoming clinic, which takes people through the process at no cost. Time and location are on a need-to-know basis since walk-ins are not invited. Eligible county residents may also be asked to begin the process by visiting the SelfServe Center in Suite 3350 of the courthouse, 832 E. Fourth St.

What if I don’t qualify?

You’ll still be called back and told when your eligibility begins. If you’re not eligible for the service at any time, you’ll get a call to discuss other options.

What kind of records can be wiped clean?

State law is pretty specific. Three types of crime generally qualify for removal.

▪ A first-time, nonviolent offense committed more than 15 years ago.

▪ A first-time offense committed between the ages of 18 and 22.

▪ A charge that was dismissed or found “not guilty.”

Why should I bother?

Old criminal charges have a way of indefinitely popping up on background checks. That can cost you a job or a lease on an apartment, among other everyday essentials. Once expungement takes place, it’s as if the crime never existed.

“It’s a service we felt we needed,” said Charles Keller, the courthouse’s community access and outreach coordinator.

Gordon: 704-358-5095

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