Free legal clinic in Fort Worth helps you erase your criminal past
There's a free event happening in Fort Worth if you need to get your criminal record erased, and who doesn't.
Get ready for the 5th Annual Expunction and Nondisclosure Clinic, a virtual event where you can wipe certain arrests or charges clean from your record — a legal process called "expunction."
A person may qualify for expunction if:
- a charge was dismissed, not filed, or no billed by a Grand Jury
- they were acquitted of the charge or pardoned
- they completed a diversion program, such as the Deferred Prosecution Program or Deferred Prosecution Initiative in Tarrant County
A person may qualify for a non disclosure, which is when an arrest record is sealed, if the case was a Class A or B misdemeanor or a non-exempt felony and he or she successfully completed a deferred adjudication probation.
Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney. Sharen Wilson notes that having a criminal record can prevent someone from getting a job or a place to live.
"It is important to give people – especially those who had their charges dropped or completed a diversion program – a second chance," Wilson says in a statement. "Erasing that criminal record gives people a fresh start and helps them, once again, to positively contribute to society."
Applicants must submit a questionnaire and financial statement at www.lcdla-bar.com. Only Tarrant County cases can be considered.
Online applications must be submitted by April 5. Volunteer attorneys will contact applicants between April 3 and May 7 to complete the petition for expunction or nondisclosure.
While the clinic is free, the court costs are not. The fee is approximately $450 in cash, cashier's check, or money order before the petition is filed. Court costs may be waived for some applicants who meet financial guidelines.
The L. Clifford Davis Legal Association and the Tarrant County CDA's Office hosted the first expunction clinic in 2016. They gather volunteer attorneys to file the petitions, and if eligible, individuals may have their filing fee waived.
The clinic provides a way for those who cannot afford to file an Expunction or Non Disclosure an opportunity to clean up their criminal record at little to no cost. Since that first clinic, more than 5,300 expunctions and more than 600 non-disclosures have been issued.
The clinic is important, says MarQuetta Clayton, president-elect of the L. Clifford Davis Legal Association and Expunction Clinic Chair, because people can feel the negative consequences of an arrest or a criminal charge long after they've paid their debt to society.
"An individual's criminal history can affect their employment, housing, licensing, and many other opportunities that would otherwise be available," Clayton says.