Hundreds of charges cleared at Sangamon County expungement seminar
Saturday, people traveled up to several hours to see if they were eligible for a fresh start by having their record in Sangamon County cleared.
"Getting this record cleared is going to help me to further my ministry with God and further my life, make my life better, have people trust me more and not worry about the past,” Waverly resident Pat Emery said. “The past is the past, let's worry about the future."
The Sangamon County Circuit Clerk sponsored an expungement seminar, with around a dozen volunteer lawyers. People could find out for free if charges could be cleared from their record, or expunged. They could also have their records sealed so that charges could not be seen in the future.
"They deserve to be able to feed their families, they deserve to be able to get a job, to work,” Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance’s Joy Burgess said. “If we don't allow them that opportunity, then we're failing them because they're going to go right back out into the system."
In total, lawyers filed 124 misdemeanor cases for expungement, sealment, or both. On top of that, 77 felonies, 21 DUI's and 173 traffic charges were cleared.
"I always like to say we kind of serve as a flashlight with these sealing and expungement seminars so that folks can see what available paths there are for them,” Sangamon County Circuit Clerk Paul Palazzolo said. “They may not like the paths they see, they may love the paths they see, but at least they'll have some choices.
Those who showed up paid no lawyer fees and had $120 in court fees dropped. If done through a law office, it could have cost upwards of $1,000.
There are still around 35 people lawyers who were not able to get to at the event, which they plan to help.
The Circuit Clerk says he hopes to continue these expungement seminars and hold them twice a year.