Expungement clinic gives hundreds a clean slate

Last week several elected officials, local judges, attorneys and law students came together to help residents of Forsyth County receive a clean slate during a free expungement clinic.

Expungement clinic gives hundreds a clean slate
April 25
00:05 2019

It is no secret that having a criminal record can have a negative impact on one’s ability to become a productive citizen. That’s why last week several elected officials partnered with the Wake Forest Law Pro Bono Project and local attorneys to host an expungement clinic at the Forsyth County Hall of Justice.

Led by Forsyth County Clerk of Superior Court, the Honorable Susan Frye, and City Councilman James Taylor, the expungement clinic, which was free of charge, was designed to give residents in Forsyth County a clean record and some added confidence when they’re filling out that job application, applying for housing, or even post-secondary education. The sheriff and clerk’s offices stayed late to make it all happen.

According to the National Reentry Resource Center, 87 percent of employers conduct criminal background checks for some or all job applicants and the existence of a criminal record reduces job callback by 50 percent on average.

In December 2017 North Carolina made major changes to the law covering expungements. The biggest changes reduced the waiting period to expunge a non-violent misdemeanor from 15 years to 5 years and nonviolent felonies from 15 years to 10. The fairly new legislation also eliminates the number of expungements one is entitled to if charges are dismissed, or one is found “not guilty.”  Under the old law, only one expungement was allowed.

It is estimated that up to 2 million residents in North Carolina will benefit from the change in the expungement law.

On the day of the clinic here in Forsyth County, local judges, attorneys, and local law students helped hundreds of residents complete and file paperwork with the clerk, who will complete the expungement process. When discussing the clinic, Taylor, who is also publisher of The Chronicle, said oftentimes poverty and crime go hand in hand. He said, “There are so many people who can’t get proper jobs, who can’t get their license or adequate housing because they have charges on their records.

“So in order to fix a problem, you have to look at the root cause of the problem and justice reform on the local level is something I have dedicated my life to solving. We notice we had these problems, so we got with the clerk of court, several judges, some Wake Forest law students, and some local attorneys and we made it our business to pull together and try to fight these issues.”

After going through the process to have a felony conviction expunged that has been on his record for more than 20 years, one man said the clinic gave him an entire new outlook on life. He said, “I thought this charge was going to be on my record forever. I feel like I have a clean slate and another chance at life.”

According to event organizers, discussions about other free clinics to expunge criminal and traffic records are already underway. All expungements in Forsyth County are handled by Susan Frye, Forsyth County Clerk of Superior Court.

For more information on expungements, cost of expungements, and expungement laws, visit

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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