Volunteers gear up for Expungement Day; hundreds hoping to clear old criminal records

Know this: Nothing is easy about clearing old criminal records.

Wednesday, just three days before Expungement Day in Kansas City, volunteer law students, staff and attorneys rushed to sort through the wave of requests from the hundreds so far who want help clearing their names of long-past wrongs.

The reality is that even with an expanded expungement law in Missouri, many people still won’t qualify. And those who could qualify have to navigate a complicated petition process.

That’s why these volunteers are working so hard.

The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, Code for KC and the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office are leading a coalition that wants to guide people quickly through the justice process.

There is a lot to do before Expungement Day arrives, Saturday, April 27, from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church, 2711 E. 27th Street.

As of mid-afternoon Wednesday, 485 people had signed in — preregistering for help at info.umkc.edu/clearmyrecord.

The volunteer team has been looking through the criminal records, identifying who may or may not be eligible for expungement, and prepping the individualized petitions to help propel those who qualify to speedier relief.

The effort will be ongoing, with more events coming in the months ahead.

UMKC law professor and Dean Emerita Ellen Suni, speaking to the volunteers as they labored Wednesday, shared the message that Expungement Day means to the people hoping to shed their past.

“You are not the worst thing you’ve ever done,” she said. “People will try to define you as your worst, but you can take that back.”

Expungement Day may be able to help you if:

  • You have completed all aspects of a misdemeanor sentence at least three years ago.

  • You have completed all aspects of a felony sentence at least seven years ago.

  • Your convictions were in Missouri.

Many people are not eligible. You cannot qualify if your conviction was for a dangerous felony, any offense with sex offender registration, any felony offense where death is an element, felony assault, domestic assault, felony kidnapping or stealing.

Information is also available on Facebook at Clear My Record Expungement Project, or by calling 1-800-200-2871.

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