Many learned how to clear their criminal records

MIDDLEBURY — Around 20 people took part in a special event held Oct. 12 at Frank Mahady Courthouse aimed at helping residents clear their criminal records of past misdemeanor charges, notably including possession of marijuana. It was the first of two-such events.
Nine participants at the Oct. 12 session availed themselves of free legal aid in filling out the requisite paperwork to get their records expunged of their past transgressions. Several local and statewide attorneys participated.
The sessions are a collaboration of the Addison County State’s Attorney’s Office, Vermont Legal Aid, the Center for Justice Reform at Vermont Law School and The Pennywise Foundation.
The second session is set for Sunday, Oct. 28, 2 to 4:30 p.m. at Middlebury College’s Kirk Alumni Center.
The two sessions reflect recent state laws that have not only decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana, but also now allow Vermonters to possess up to an ounce of the substance and grow up to two mature plants on their property.
The record cleansing offer doesn’t extend to felonies. But past convictions for minor misdemeanors can affect employment, loans and financial aid opportunities, among other things.
There are about 740 misdemeanor marijuana convictions on the books at the county courthouse, dating back to 1990, according to State’s Attorney Dennis Wygmans. He hopes for another good turnout at the Oct. 28 expungement event.
Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@addisonindependent.com.

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