Expungement clinic to be held at JCPL on Thursday

Published 11:52 am Tuesday, December 5, 2023

All Jessamine County residents have been invited to the second expungement clinic in the area since September at the Jessamine County Public Library on Thursday, Dec. 7th, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

In addition to the expungement clinic, the library is hosting a job and resource fair. No pre-registration is required. Walk-ins are encouraged. The clinic has been organized by ABLE organizers, including local resident Tipton Moody, who brought the last clinic to the county.

Andy Sims, the Commonwealth’s Attorney for the 13th Judicial Circuit, including Jessamine and Garrard counties, is responsible for signing off on all felony expungements in the counties he serves. Jessamine County Attorney Brian Goettl is responsible for signing off on misdemeanor expungements. Sims is also a huge proponent of expungements. He says he rarely objects to them.

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“As long as the person is meeting the requirements to apply for an expungement, I allow it,” Sims said. “I can’t speak for any other prosecutor, but I love expungements. I’m so thankful that we have them, and I’m so thankful that these individuals can go through the steps and apply for it.”

“The way the process works is they do all the filing. They file the paperwork at the court in which they were convicted. If it’s a felony, it’s in my court. And then, along with that application, they have to get a certification from the Kentucky State Police showing me their record, their conviction and their criminal history. Based on that and the statute, I say they’ve met the statutory requirements, and the commonwealth is fine with allowing their record to be expunged. Then, once I give my permission and the judge enters the order, that’s how it’s done,” Sims said.

But, not all felonies are eligible for an expungement. According to Sims, the individual must have served the time and/or probation without getting convicted for another crime for five consecutive years. All misdemeanors can be expunged, and most Class D Felonies can be expunged, but nothing over that.

A Class D Felony is the lowest level felony. Only a few cannot be expunged, including any assault or sexual assault, anything against a child and anything that resulted in death or serious injury.

Everything else is a low-level felony and eligible for expungement, including possession of any drugs (from Heroin to marijuana), burglary 3rd-degree (which is burglary of a building or commercial presence), criminal mischief (damage of property), felony theft (ex. From Kohl’s or Wal-Mart).

Sims said that any victim from these crimes can object to expungement, which his office must head in the process, “Now that’s rare, and in my 20-some-odd years of prosecuting, I think I only had a victim come in and say they object once or twice. But the vast majority of these felonies don’t involve victims.”

Other than the victim’s word, which Sims said his office always honors, Sims reiterates his and his office’s support of expungements. In fact, he believes expungement can reduce the likelihood of the individual returning to jail.

“The main thing with expungement is we want to get justice and help people who have been convicted and demonstrated they’re ready to move on and have paid their debt to society. But, when I’m talking to public groups and people who aren’t really crazy about expungements for whatever reason, I never really understood it. Some people just want folks to have life-long consequences for mistakes they’ve made in their youth. But I tell those people that it’s my experience that expungement reduces recidivism. Think about it; you have someone with something on their record,” Simms said. They want to get it off their record. They committed a crime or made a mistake in the past, but now they’re doing better. They try to clear their records to continue forward in society, and they’re told no, the thing stays on their record, they can’t get a good job, they’re shackled to this life of hopelessness

“And many of them say ‘to hell with it; if I can’t get a job or I can’t shake this past, I may lean into it.’ But as someone in the justice system, I’ve demonstrated support for them, and for lack of a better term, we’re proud of them for turning their life around, and then we give them the gift of expungement. A lot of these people feel better about themselves, and they don’t feel hopeless because somebody believes in them. I’ve seen at least it can have an inspirational effect on these people.”

For more information, or if you have any questions, call (859) 363-6362.

The library is located at 600 South Main St. in Nicholasville.