By Robbie Owens

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Those accused, but not convicted, of crimes could get a fresh start. Dallas County’s first-ever expunction clinic aims to help those eligible North Texans move forward.

Teneisha Natt intends to be one of them. Natt said that she was a college student when an altercation over her paycheck ended with her employer accusing her of theft. You can guess what happened next. “My mom’s house was surrounded with Dallas police telling me that I had committed a crime,” said 24-year-old Natt. “I was in shock.”

“I lost everything,” Natt continued. “I no longer attended school anymore, because I just felt as if, with a background, who would want anyone they believed was a robber or a thief to work for them?”

Now, Natt is hoping that an upcoming Dallas County Expunction Clinic will allow her to clear the arrest that’s been a roadblock to a better future — and she’s not alone.

“I had an attorney in here just a few minutes ago,” said Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson. “The lady was employed for 17 years and, all of a sudden, the employer decided to do an updated background check and saw something on the record and fired her! If they can get something off their record so they can a better job, better housing, a better education — and these things are not blocking them — that’s what we’re trying to achieve.”

Dallas City Councilwoman Tiffinni Young has been spearheading the effort in cooperation with the DA’s office and Dallas County District Clerk Felicia Pitre. Some 1,200 people have already registered for Saturday’s required pre-qualification clinic, and organizers say that the event is at capacity. There is a waiting list and interested parties are encouraged to sign up.

The Dallas Expunction Expo is a free event to educate the public on the importance and the process of clearing criminal arrest records. Participants will be able to speak with volunteer attorneys about their arrest records and connect with community organizations and other social service agencies.

Natt plans to be at the clinic — and she’s bringing her big dreams. “I have my future back,” said Natt. “It’s overwhelming.”

Listed below are important details that you need to know prior to attending the Dallas Expunction Expo on Saturday, April 29 at Golden Gate Missionary Baptist Church.

You may qualify for an expunction if:

  • Your case was DISMISSED (if your case was dismissed, you will need to obtain a certified copy of the dismissal order and bring it with you on Saturday, March 4).
  • Your case was NO-BILLED by a grand jury.
  • You were tried and found NOT GUILTY (if you were acquitted, you will need to obtain a certified copy of the judgement of acquittal and bring it with you on Saturday, March 4).
  • You were PARDONED or EXONERATED.
  • Only Dallas County arrests can be considered for expunctions.
  • Juvenile arrest records are not eligible for expunction.
  • Individuals interested in an expunction must attend the Prequalification Clinic on Saturday, March 4. The registration deadline is Thursday, March 2. Complete the Participant Information Sheet and bring it to the clinic on Saturday, March 4.

Even if you are not eligible for an expunction, you are still welcome to come out on Saturday, April 29 for information about employment, job training, health care, housing and other community resources.

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