SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Salt Lake County will hold a remote expungment day this coming Wednesday, July 8.
During the event, over 65 volunteer attorneys will assist individuals in determining eligibility for expungement, help clients fill out applications needed to start this process, and discuss other options for individuals who may not be immediately eligible to expunge their records.
So far, 684 individuals have signed up for the event to receive free legal assistance. Those who qualify as eligible for expungement will have the opportunity to submit applications through an online process with digital signatures. Participating courts will hold dedicated, remote “courtrooms” to hear motions, where needed.
“A criminal record creates many barriers for individuals, including an inability to access housing,
employment and educational opportunities,” said Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson. “The road to self-reliance and independence is often blocked by past crimes that show up in routine background and credit checks. As a county, we need to help individuals move past the stain of a criminal record.”
Approximately one in five people in the United States have a criminal record, and data from the Utah Department of Public Safety suggests that number in Utah is likely as high as one in four. When individuals cannot obtain decent-paying jobs and safe places to live, the chances of recidivism, homelessness, and relapse increase, which in turn increases costs to the taxpayers.
“Our criminal justice system is based on the notion of rehabilitation and on the premise that once you pay your debt to society, we will welcome you back into our community as an equal partner and an equal contributor to the success of our society. Expungement Day is us helping us deliver on that
promise,” said Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill
The event, which will be held from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
The Clean Slate/Automatic Expungement law, passed in 2019, directed the courts to build a system that will automatically expunge low-level offenses for those with minimal criminal history after a period of time if they do not re-offend.
Starting that program has taken time, but was further delayed by COVID-19. In the meantime, eligible individuals can start their own expungement through traditional petition-based expungement, but it comes with high costs associated with the long, and complicated process.
The expungement day held through the county helps individuals understand the process and help cover some of the costs. Certificates needed for expunging records for those who are eligible will be covered by a federal grant that was awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance.
The event is hosted by the Salt Lake County Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice Initiatives, Salt Lake County Criminal Justice Services, the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office, the Utah Department of Public Safety, West Valley Justice Court, Salt Lake City Justice Court,
Riverton Justice Court, Summit County Justice Court, Salt Lake County Justice Court, and the Utah