Session breaks down criminal record-clearing

Published 8:09 pm Thursday, February 26, 2015

For job seekers who’ve run into walls due to a criminal background, assistance may be found at a free seminar on Saturday.

The public is invited to “Criminal Backgrounds and Legal Remedies,” from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Beaufort County Community College’s multipurpose room in Building 10. The session will focus on the expunction process: how it works and who is eligible to have their record erased.

“We have a lot of individuals who come in seeking employment who have a criminal background — and that’s one of their barriers,” said Jennie Bowen, center manager of Beaufort County NCWorks Career Center. “A lot of what we’re running into are people who made one mistake many years ago.”

That past mistake can affect employment opportunities and housing, and even though employers are now taking a more comprehensive view of potential employees’ criminal records — focusing not on a conviction, but on the crime and how long ago it took place — those eligible for expunction can benefit.

Bowen said that there’s a lot of misinformation about who can have a record expunged and how to go about it, as well as questionable outfits that sell record-expunging services to those who aren’t familiar with the process or their eligibility.

To that end, NCWorks Career Center and Richard Powell Legal Society, Inc. have partnered for Saturday’s session: the attorneys leading the seminar are volunteers with Richard Powell Legal Society, many of whom practice in Greenville. Bowen said she had attended a similar seminar in Greenville several months ago and had been working to bring the same to Beaufort County residents since.

“The expunction process is a fairly new process. We just want to give them information about the right way to have it done and whether they are truly eligible and not just going by what they hear on the streets,” Bowen explained.

The informational session is free and open to the public. There is no registration required.

Beaufort County Community College is located at 5337 U.S. Highway 264 East, Washington.