It’s a scenario all too familiar to many people: one where making a mistake years ago is still preventing you or someone close to you from having a full life.

“Sorry, you failed our background check,” is a familiar but heart-sinking sentence that haunts anyone with a criminal record, even a juvenile record. It prevents them from finding a place to live, getting a job, and even from volunteering with many charitable or service organizations.

For a lot of people, however; there is a way to make it go away. It’s called expungement and Kansas Legal Services is actively seeking people they may be able to help.

“In most cases, if you have not had any new offenses in the past two years, your prior record can be expunged so it no longer shows up on the computer when prospective landlords or employers conduct a background check,” said Joy Springfield, Director of Pro Bono Services with Kansas Legal Services. 

Attorneys from Koch Industries will be working with people starting at the end of April with a goal of doubling the caseload of pro bono expungement cases this year, which marks the fifth year of the service. The goal is to have clients placed with an attorney by May 15.

The Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office is also a partner in the effort.

Requirements for Eligibility

Springfield said there are some requirements for eligibility that people need to take into account.

All offenders must have completed their sentence at least five years ago for felony offenses and three years ago for all others. All fines, fees and restitution must be paid. The person cannot have had a new conviction in the last two years and cannot have a pending case, she said.

For this program, the crime and conviction must have taken place in Kansas. Convictions in other states must be expunged in those states because the laws governing expungement differ from state to state.

Drug offenders’ names are placed on a registry for five years and expungement is a two-step process. First, an offender must apply for relief from the registry and after his name is removed, he can apply for expungement.

If your name is on a registry for sex offenders or violent offenders, your record can’t be expunged.

“The cleaner your record, the greater your chances of success,” Springfield said.

Important Things to Know

Springfield pointed to several more things it is important for anyone convicted of a  crime to know about their record.

  1. A record does not automatically go away.Even after expungement, it’s still there but it no longer shows up on a criminal background check.
  2. Completing diversion and having a charge dismissed still requires asking for an offense to be removed from the record.
  3. Juvenile records don’t disappear; they have to be expunged 
  4. Even if your case was dismissed in court or you were found not guilty, you should check the record to make sure the arrest isn’t still on the record.

To learn more about Kansas Legal Services or to get help, call Kansas Legal Services at (800) 723-6953 or go to the Website at

Join the Conversation


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