KU Law students to offer free help with criminal record expungements

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Students with the University of Kansas School of Law’s Legal Aid Clinic are preparing to help folks get their criminal records expunged, free for those who qualify.

The clinic can represent clients who have arrests, diversions or convictions in most Douglas County District Court or Lawrence Municipal Court cases, with some exceptions, according to a Monday news release.

The clinic can accept clients with income up to 250% of the federal poverty level — that’s an annual income of up to $36,450 ($3,038 monthly) for a single individual, or $75,000 for a household of four ($6,250 monthly). Those who qualify for representation but who do not qualify for a waiver of the court’s per-case filing fee will need to pay that court fee but no attorney’s fees, as long as they are eligible for services, according to the release.

The clinic is set to take place in person from noon to 2:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 6 in the Lawrence Public Library auditorium, 707 Vermont St. After the intake clinic day at the library, clients will need to attend one additional appointment and any required court hearings with their Legal Aid attorney, according to the release.

The Clean Slate Criminal Record Expungement Clinic is in partnership with the Douglas County district attorney’s office and the Lawrence Public Library.

“As a public library, we want to expand public knowledge about the expungement process,” Marc Veloz, community resource specialist at the library, said in the release. “A tangible way we can do that is by providing a space for this service and helping get the word out to our community partners.”

Melanie Daily, clinical associate professor and director of Douglas County Legal Aid Society Inc., said criminal record expungement serves an important role in the justice system by allowing qualified individuals to get back into the community and do good work — “in their homes, schools, workplaces and beyond. It’s a last step in getting their records to reflect not their mistakes, but the progress they have made.”

DA Suzanne Valdez said in the release that convictions for certain crimes shouldn’t be a life sentence.

“Through this opportunity, individuals can access the expungement process for free and remove long-standing barriers to education, housing and employment,” she said. “We are fortunate to be able to work with the Legal Aid Clinic to provide this service to our community.”

Those who have questions regarding the clinic and expungement eligibility may call the Legal Aid Clinic at 785-864-5564.

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Note: The income amounts in this post have been updated to 2023 federal poverty guidelines.

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