The Dallas County district attorney is erasing past criminal records for people not convicted of a crime or those who've been pardoned or exonerated.
District Attorney Faith Johnson is holding her second expunction expo next month. She is using a state law few other Texas district attorneys are using to delete criminal records of people worthy of a clean slate.
Even if never convicted, a criminal record can keep people from good jobs, good housing and even enrolling in college.
Chris Wicker now stands on the right side of the justice system. But for several years, he found himself locked out of several opportunities. He had a criminal record following him even though his charges were dismissed or no-billed by a grand jury.
“Two years ago, I had a lot of doors slammed on me,” he said. “But now, I can honestly say that God is good.”
Wicker's record was expunged with help from the TORI re-entry program and DA Faith Johnson's first expunction expo that saw 1,200 people attend. A tenth of them had their records expunged.
“Under the law, you are eligible for this expunction if you have had a dismissal, if you had a not guilty from a trial that you had, if you had a grand jury no bill or you had a dismissal or a pardon or exoneration,” Johnson explained.
The next expunction clinic will happen on March 3. To know if you are eligible, you will need to apply before February 16 online or in person. Once the cases are reviewed, those who qualify will be invited to March expunction clinic.
Several attorney associations and local law college students are volunteering to assist with more than 5,100 cases that are potentially expunction eligible.
“This is becoming an increasingly important right that people have because everybody can see everything now,” said Brooke Busby with SMU Dedman School of Law.
The future that Wicker couldn't see because of his criminal record is now bright.
“I thank them for another chance,” Wicker said. “Now, I can see the light because it was dark at first.”
ONLINE APPLICATION LINK: www.dallascounty.org/department/districtclerk/expo