January 04, 2022

Article at wkyufm.org

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Kentucky Supreme Court takes down financial barrier to expungement

Kentuckians who can’t afford to have their criminal records expunged, or cleared, can now ask a court to waive those fees. That change could have a big impact on the lives of individuals who have served their time and are eligible for expungement.

A recent opinion from the Kentucky Supreme Court allows individuals to ask the court to waive expungement fees if they can’t afford to pay them. When someone has served their time, including parole for non-violent, non-sex-related crimes in Kentucky, they can apply to have mention of their crimes removed from public record.

“This is a really important win for access to justice because now there’s a clear signal to everybody that there’s no financial barrier to accessing the court to seek this relief,” said Mike Abate, a lawyer who worked on the case.

Abate said the change will give many Kentuckians a second chance and hope for moving on with their lives. Those who have their criminal record expunged have a chance of getting other rights restored, including voting and Second Amendment freedoms.

“The reason that it’s so important is that a felony conviction can have profound consequences on all aspects of somebody’s life,” Abate said. “It can affect employment eligibility, the ability to get a job, it can affect housing, it can affect student loan eligibility status.”

It costs $50 up-front to apply for an expungement and another $250 for fees if the request is granted.