July 7, 2020
County Offers Remote Expungement Day
Volunteer attorneys help eligible individuals erase criminal history, remove barriers to jobs, housing, education
Salt Lake County, UT— The Salt Lake County Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice Initiatives is partnering with 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 Bar, to host the Summer 2020 Remote Expungement Day.
This event will be held remotely on Wednesday, July 8 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Over 65 volunteer attorneys will spend the day online, providing free legal assistance to community members with Utah criminal records who wish to clean their record. Participating courts will hold dedicated, remote “courtrooms” to hear motions, where needed. A federal grant secured by the Mayor’s Office will pay for certificate fees for those eligible.
684 individuals have signed up for the event to receive free legal assistance. During the event, 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. Those who qualify as eligible for expungement will have the opportunity to submit applications through an online process with digital signatures.
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.
“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.”
“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.
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. In recognition of this reality, the Clean Slate/Automatic Expungement law, passed in 2019, directs the courts to build a system which will automatically expunge low-level offenses for those with minimal criminal history after a period of law-abiding citizenship. Implementation of this mandate will take significant time and has been delayed by COVID-19. In the meantime, eligible individuals can continue to seek expungement through traditional petition-based expungement, but they are still burdened by the high costs associated with the process.
Expungement is a legal process set forth in Utah law. It defines who is, and who is not eligible to clear their court records. Applications for expungement must be submitted to the Department of Public Safety, which runs a comprehensive criminal background check to confirm eligibility. Petitions for expungement must then be submitted to the court, which makes the final determination on whether the applicant can expunge their record.
Special thanks to the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice for their support. This project was is supported by Grant No. 2016-DJ-BX-0772 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance.
WHO: SLCo Mayor’s Office and SLCo District Attorney’s Office
WHAT: Expungement Day
WHEN: Wednesday, July 8
10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
WHERE: Online – slco.org/expunge