'Each step is a new tomorrow:' Expungement clinics give Cumberland County residents fresh hope

CUMBERLAND COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Cumberland County residents will have the chance at a clean slate with the upcoming free expungement clinics for those with non-violent felonies or misdemeanors.

The clinics began in 2017 after Commissioner Charles Evans brought the idea to the table. With the help of the city, county, and district attorney, the free resource is making its fourth return.

Commissioner Evans knows the difficulties a felony can bring. During his 30s, Evans was convicted of drug charges that have left a stain on his permanent record.

So, being able to see people like Robert Long remove it from their record brings joy to his heart.

"It brings me the feeling of accomplishment for them," Evans said.

Long still remembers the day he learned his felonies were expunged.

"I saw that it was accepted. The box was checked for accepted, and right then and there, I just started crying," Long said.

A priceless feeling for a Raeford man that was still paying for a crime he committed at the age of 18.

"It was actually selling marijuana. I had multiple counts of selling marijuana," Long added.

'I'VE PAID MY DEBT TO SOCIETY'

For the next 17 years, those felonies were a cloud over Long's head, making it hard for him to find work and difficult to support his wife and five children.

"I've paid my debt off to society. I've worked my butt off to provide for my family. I've worked my butt off to make a better life for myself. I should be rewarded for it at some point," Long said.

Since the free service began in 2017, more than 1,000 men and women, like Long, have had their slates wiped clean.

Long was a part of the first expungement class. Just three years later, at the age of 38, the father has graduated with his GED, plans to take some engineering classes at a college, which will allow for more opportunities at his position at Nvent in Aberdeen.

"I'm not living in that life anymore, and so, each step is a new tomorrow," Long said.

FIND OUT MORE

According to the DA's office, you may be eligible for an expungement if you are indigent and have:

  • Just one non-violent felony conviction from Cumberland County more than 10 years
  • Just one non-violent felony conviction from Cumberland County more than 5 years ago
  • Just one non-violent felony conviction from Cumberland County before age 18 and at least 4 years ago
  • Prior charges from Cumberland County that were dismissed or that you were found not guilty of unless you are a convicted felon


The county will hold the actual expungement clinic this summer where local attorneys, the Public Defender's office, and Legal Aid will provide free legal service to help individuals to get their records expunged.

Here are the upcoming informational sessions for those interested:

  • February 18 at 6 p.m. at True Vine Ministries - 5315 Morganton Road, Fayetteville, NC 28314
  • February 29 at 11 a.m. at Second Missionary Baptist Church - 522 Old Wilmington Road, Fayetteville, NC 28301

For more information contact the Cumberland County District Attorney's Office: (910) 475-3010
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