McKINNEY, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Revealing a criminal conviction or arrest on a job or housing application can cripple someone’s opportunities for both.
With that in mind, Collin County announced a new program Wednesday, March 31, that will allow some people to wipe their records clean.READ MORE: Arlington Home Catches Fire During Sunday Storms
The Collin County District Attorney’s Office says this is the first expunction program ever offered by the county and people are already lining up to take advantage of it.
It was an impulsive decision as a teenager to shoplift from a Walmart that 21-year-old D.D. Lucas didn’t realize could have had a long-term impact on her life.
“It was like something dumb just thinking I can get away with stuff,” said Lucas, an expunction applicant.
The McKinney woman says she was denied housing because of her misdemeanor offense and worried that a choice to commit a crime which she later regretted, would derail her plans to become a nurse.
“It’s natural for people to think if you did it once you’ll do it again. I won’t,” she said.READ MORE: Head-On Crash Near Glen Rose Leaves 3 Dead, Officials Say
Lucas is one of the first applicants of Expunction Collin County.
It’s a program to clear criminal records of first-time offenders announced by District Attorney Greg Willis.
“An expunction gives you a stronger hand in the game of life especially for those who have had the deck stacked against them,” said Willis.
Applicants who complete an online survey will have their cases reviewed and even convicted felons could see their cases expunged.
It has the support of Collin County’s NAACP chapter which found people of color there much more likely to be arrested during traffic stops for minor offenses.
“I’m glad that we are looking at those numbers and saying we’ve got to do something to correct the problem,” said June Jenkins of the Collin County NAACP.MORE NEWS: Unvaccinated COVID-19 Patients Filling Up Hospitals, Austin Officials Say ICU Capacity Reaching 'Critical Point'
Those who receive expunctions going forward can legally deny that they have ever been arrested or prosecuted for those offenses.