San Luis Obispo County residents have the opportunity to clear their criminal records in the coming weeks.
San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow says the new program offers a second chance for people who are getting their lives back on track.
“If you’re without a house to live in and without a job, you’re more likely to get back into crime,” said Dow. “So, this is a way of safely helping bridge people from a former life back into our community,” said Dow.
A criminal record often stands in the way of landing a job or finding a place to rent.
“That is making someone who would otherwise be a great candidate for housing or employment not so great because of their criminal record,” said Joseph Doherty, Managing Attorney for California Rural Legal Assistance. “So, by removing those barriers, we can increase housing and employment options for our community members who need it most.”
An upcoming “clean slate clinic” in San Luis Obispo could help wipe records clean.
To qualify, you need to complete probation, pay any fees and restitution and most importantly not commit another crime.
“It doesn’t restore a person’s right to possess a firearm and it doesn’t mean that law enforcement can’t use their prior conviction against them in the future if they were to return to crime,” explained Dow.
A successful expungement means you can legally check “no” when asked if you’ve been convicted of a crime while applying for a job.
“We’ve been doing this on our own for quite a while so, it’s nice to have the support of all the agencies, including the district attorney,” said Steven Rice with San Luis Obispo Defenders.
Law offices like San Luis Obispo defenders handle cases like these on a regular basis.
They say the current process is lengthy, but the new program will be much faster.
“They will also be able to look at the person's record and determine whether or not this is something they’re able to do right then and there instead of having to wait at least 30 days,” added Rice.
The Clean Slate Clinic takes place on Friday, March 24 from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.
“We’re hoping that all the petitions can be reviewed and filed that same day on the 24 and have a judge review the petitions and make a decision to grant or deny within a week,” said Doherty.
The free clinic takes place at the SLO County Law Library, located at 1050 Monterey Street #155.
District Attorney Dow hopes that the free clinic becomes a regular and possibly monthly occurrence.
Applicants are urged to schedule an appointment in advance, but walk-ins are welcome.
You can schedule an appointment by calling (805) 902- CRLA (2752) or by sending an email to email@example.com.