Calcasieu DA holding expungement event to help clear criminal records
Published 10:45 am Tuesday, March 29, 2022
Starting Friday, April 1, individuals may apply – online only – to erase certain Calcasieu Parish convictions, dismissals or acquittals. Stephen Dwight, Calcasieu Parish District Attorney, announced “A New Day,” expungement and name change program Monday, March 28.
“Community partners such as the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office, the Clerk of Court, and United Way are responsible for making this happen,” said Calcasieu Parish District Attorney Stephen Dwight. “We are very thankful to have them on board. The goal is to help our community members receive job offers, loans and engage in normal everyday successes. Receiving an expungement can help with so much in someone’s life. I hope everyone who can will take advantage of this opportunity.”
Southwest Louisiana United Way Laurie Martin said this is one more way for the Southwest Louisiana United Way to show support for those who need a step up, better employment, more sustainable employment.
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Assistant District Attorney Karen McLellan noted that without a clean record, it is impossible to get a Concealed Carry, federal housing loan, gaming license or even a student loan.
Nursing school applicants have to have a clean record. Industry human resource departments check applicants’ records. The military won’t take someone with convictions.
“This is an amazing program,” said Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Stitch Guillory. “It gives people the opportunity to erase what might have been one bad night, start fresh and new. We’re all human. We’ve all made mistakes. Sometimes it’s just best to forgive and move on.”
“You never know where life will take you,” said Calcasieu Parish Clerk of Court Lynn Jones.
Mark Judson, Southwest Louisiana Law Center, said New Day offers more to the public than an erased record. It also represents a tremendous savings in court costs, legal and other fees. However, expungement is not an option for all.
“Violent crimes are not eligible for expungement,” he said. “That’s not a complete answer, but it’s a general guide. And no sex crimes. And only those matters adjudicated in Calcasieu Parish.”
Felonies must have occurred 10 years ago or more. Misdemeanors must have occurred five years ago or more. Special rules will apply to DWIs, according to Judson. Also the full completion of the sentence must have occurred to include paying of fines, parole, anger management class for instance, no pending warrants, and all law enforcement must agree.
For the first time ever, the expungement will also be offering adult name changes to the public.
Certain criteria will need to be met, according to Dwight. The application, information gathering and review processes overlap to some degree, with the information gathering required for expungement.
For those who apply for a name change and meet criteria, A New Day also represents significant cost savings. A person does not have to be applying for an expungement to take advantage of the name change event.
Jones said, the collaborative efforts and organizing involved in A New Day is a perfect example of how the government should work.
When the program was held in 2019, 127 individuals received a fresh start, according to Monica Winfrey, Clerk of Court, Expungement Process.
An application will not automatically result in expungement or guarantee a name change, but starting on April 1, the process for A New Day can begin. Visit Calcasieuda.com and look for the expungement and name change pull-down tabs. The only way to apply is online.
Agencies and organizations that would like to partner in A New Day – NOT those who wish to apply for an expungement or name change – call 337-437-3405 for more information.