Graduates of the Wayne County Teen Court program will have a rare opportunity Saturday.
Those students who have successfully completed the program -- and who have not picked up another misdemeanor or felony charge since -- are eligible to have their criminal records expunged at no cost.
The event will take place Saturday, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. in courtroom No. 2 at the Wayne County Courthouse.
Assistant district attorney Tracy Moore said the program is being put on in conjunction with teen court, the Young Lawyers Association, and a number of volunteer judges and attorneys who were willing to pitch in.
"When you expunge their record, it completely clears their record from the criminal justice system," Moore said.
Having a clean record helps when applying for jobs or to colleges -- any area of life where having a criminal conviction could be a disqualifying factor, she said.
"So they can truthfully answer on those applications that they have never been arrested for any specific crime or offense," Moore said.
The process can be a very expensive. So it is no surprise that a rumor around town that anyone with criminal records could come to an event and have the record expunged has been gathering steam, Moore said.
Wayne County Sheriff Larry Pierce said the concern that large crowds of adults could show up thinking the program might apply to them was born out of a social media post sharing the event.
He said the post did not include the fact that the event only applied to teen court graduates.
"We're just going to have our bailiffs there the same as we would on any normal day," Pierce said.
He said he did not see the need to increase security beyond routine staffing levels, but with no way to estimate how many people might show up, he thought it best to play it safe.
"I just wanted to have my people in place," he said.
That said, if a qualifying person hears about the event but has not yet signed up for it, that person can still come and take advantage of the program Saturday.
"They can still walk in and we will work with them as long as they went through the teen court process and completed it successfully," Moore said.
She credited Chief Judicial District Court Judge David Brantley for coming up with the idea.
"He asked myself and Helen Baddour, who is with Baddour, Parker and Hine, to get the Young Lawyers Association together to try and pull it together," Moore said.
Teen court director BreAnna Van Hook helped pool the information on the qualifying graduates and Moore and Baddour worked with other volunteer attorneys to notify as many as they could, Moore said.
For more information, email Moore at email@example.com.