Persons living in Montego Bay and neighbouring communities in St. James are being encouraged to attend the expungement fair being hosted by the Legal Aid Council (LAC) on Friday (February 21).
The event will be held on Alice Eldemire Drive between the Ministry of Education’s Regional Office and the Herbert Morrison Technical High School in Freeport, from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.
Under the Criminal Justice Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, Jamaicans convicted of certain criminal offences can apply for their record to be cleaned after a predetermined rehabilitative period has passed.
“During the youthful stages [persons] would have come into conflict with the criminal law and ended up with a criminal record, but this Act provides an opportunity for persons to clear certain offences,” said Executive Director of the LAC, Hugh Faulkner.
Offences including unlawful wounding, assault occasioning bodily harm, malicious destruction of property, possession of and dealing in marijuana are eligible for expungement. Offences such as the export of drugs are not eligible.
Faulkner is encouraging persons to come out and take advantage of the opportunity to start the expungement process.
Special forms will be available at the fair, and lawyers will be on hand to provide free guidance on the process.
Faulkner said that expungement provides the opportunity for persons to move forward with their lives.
“A conviction could prevent you from accessing certain employment opportunities. A conviction can prevent you from travelling in some instances; it can also prevent you from accessing training in some disciplines. So persons can take this step to clean their records of these offences,” he noted.
Meanwhile, the LAC’s Mobile Justice Unit will be at the fair to provide additional legal information and advice to patrons.
“Persons who have questions on maintenance, custody, divorce, property matters they can come and speak to a lawyer. Persons with criminal matters can come and we can assign a lawyer to the criminal matters, but we give advice on the civil matters,” Faulkner said.