Expungement Expo offers a fresh start for many local residents

Published 2:00 pm Tuesday, May 16, 2023

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Friday was a good day for a fresh start in Winchester.

A steady stream of individuals walked through the doors of the Recovery Community Center at 37 South Main Street, which hosted an Expungement Expo, looking to do just that.

“The Department of Public Advocacy—the public defender’s office—is here to provide expungement, which is the process by which people have criminal charges removed from their record,” said Lindsay Horseman, the center’s Director of Recovery Services.

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Horseman expanded on the issues having a criminal record can cause for individuals.

“It’s a huge barrier in terms of moving forward in recovery and in life,” she said. “It is hard to find employment sometimes if you have a criminal history, and it is hard to get different kinds of assistance. Not to mention you are not really that person anymore…Sitting down in an interview and having to explain your criminal history can keep people paralyzed. It is hard to move forward when you are dragging that around with you.”

According to the Kentucky Court of Justice website, misdemeanors and most Class D felonies are eligible for expungement in the commonwealth.

Class D felonies include crimes such as theft or possession of controlled substances.

A complete list of expugnable offenses can be found at www.kycourts.gov/AOC/Information-and-Technology.

To be eligible for expungement, a person must be five years post-conviction or completion of a probationary period.

Charlie Thomas is the directing attorney of the Richmond Trial Office of the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy, the office covers Clark, Jackson and Madison counties, and provided the step-by-step process for expunging a charge.

“The very first step is applying for what is called a Certificate of Eligibility with the Kentucky State Police,” Thomas said. “There is a form you have to fill out and there is also a $40 fee. You have to send that off to the Kentucky State Police.”

It takes around eight weeks for an individual to get their certificate from the state police.

After that, an individual must file a motion for expungement in the district or circuit court they were initially charged and sentenced in, Thomas said. There is a $100 filing fee per case in district court and a $250 fee in circuit court.

Thomas said that sometimes a judge will waive the filing fees if the petitioner meets a certain income threshold.

After the motion for expungement is filed, a hearing will occur before a judge.

“The prosecutor has to have a chance to look at the motion so that they can weigh in on it,” Thomas said. “In the vast majority of cases that the Kentucky State Police has certified a conviction is expungable, and if everything is filed properly, then the judge will typically proceed with expungement.”

The period for a charge to disappear from someone’s record varies on a case-by-case basis.

The good news for anyone who missed last Friday’s event, Horseman said, is that the RCC plans to host another expungement event in the fall and will also incorporate housing and credit repair information.