Hundreds hoping for second chance with "expungement clinic."


Hundreds of people in Benton Harbor want a clean criminal record and Saturday they may have a shot at it.

Organizers are expecting at least 500 people.

There will be judges and other volunteers on hand to answer questions and help people figure out if they qualify.

Many are hoping they do because having a criminal record prevents a lot of people from landing a good job or even securing benefits like public housing.

Charline Duncan has a criminal record.

She lives in Benton Harbor now and says some employers won't hire her because of her past.

She's planning on going to the free expungement clinic.

She says, "I was wondering if this will help me and then this way I can start over again and possible i won't make the same mistakes again."

People may be eligible to have a felony expunged from their record so long as it doesn't involve child sexual abuse, criminal sexual convictions, a maximum sentence of life in prison or an attempt to commit these types of offenses.

A person can also have a felony conviction expunged if they have no more than two misdemeanors but the misdemeanors need to have happened before the age of 21 and they have to be minor offenses.

Berrien County Trial Court Judge Sterling Schrock says, "Trespassing is a minor offense. A minor in possession of alcohol would be a minor offense."

He does expungement hearings and adds, "It's the statutory maximum that they look at not the sentence that somebody actually received."

That means misdemeanor convictions have to be less than 90 days in jail and less than a $1,000 fine for a felony to be expunged.

The clinic tomorrow goes from 10 to 11:30 in the morning.

It's being held at the Abundant Life Church on Columbus Avenue in Benton Harbor.

If you are going to go make sure you bring along your ID and a copy of your record if possible.

Anyone in Michigan is welcome to attend but the judge says paperwork can only be filed in the county where the conviction happened.