The Collin County District Attorney’s Office announced the launch of a program designed to help former, non-repeat offenders expunge their criminal records.
The program, Expunction Collin County, was announced by District Attorney Greg Willis and the office’s community engagement director Peggy Grawehr-Smolen at a press conference hosted at the front entrance of the Collin County Courthouse Wednesday morning.
“There’s a lot of people that have old criminal convictions that [are] entitled to have erased or expunged, and there’s a lot of structural barriers built into that. They have to file legal paperwork, they have to find a lawyer,” said first Assistant District Attorney Bill Wirskye. “They don’t know that they’re eligible, so this program tries to address all that.”
This new initiative was announced with the support of local churches, law enforcement officers and the Collin County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the oldest civil rights organization in the United States.
Expunction Collin County will not change any legal processes concerning criminal expunction, Wirskye said, but will rather make it easier for certain people to navigate the often costly clerical avenues. Grawehr-Smolen said applicants will be paired with volunteers pending a screening process. Those who successfully receive an expunction can deny ever being arrested or charged for the qualifying offenses.
“The key to this initiative is people finding out, so whether it’s news media or just word-of-mouth, this is what we need in Collin County,” said Willis at the press conference.
Potential applicants are asked to fill out an online survey at collincountyda.com/expunction-initiative-screening-survey/.