MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - A new law that wipes out misdemeanor criminal records is clogging up the system at the Shelby County Criminal Justice Center.
The basement of the Criminal Justice Center is filled with people. Not a single guilty one in the group, by the way, but once they go to trial though things can change.
A guilty verdict on a crime goes on a person's record. Since July 1st, many people have tried to take advantage of a new law which will eliminate certain crimes from a criminal record.
Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich prosecutes the bad guys, but that's not all. Under what is called the expungement law, her office also helps wipe out a charge on a person's record.
"There are days you can barely get into the lobby of this office because of the people lined up trying to get relief from the statute, and there are other days we don't have anybody waiting."
Those "ain't nobody here" days are few and far between. The people who work at the Criminal Justice Center predicted there would be big crowds with this plan. This is Memphis, after all.
Weirich noted, "We have a history of a high crime rate. It's down now over what it's been in the last five or six years, but historically we've had a higher crime rate than in other parts of the state. We also have a lot of poverty."
There you go: poverty. It's a huge factor in every day life in Memphis, especially when it comes to trying to use the new law to get your record squeaky clean. The entire process costs a lot of money.
"You have to be able to pay the $450 fine, in addition to if you already have paid off all of your court costs and fines that the judge ordered you to pay in the first place," Weirich explained.
It's a bit complicated, and you should check with the District Attorney's office or their website
before deciding to take advantage of the program.
But it you've been convicted of, for example, auto theft, you can't get that wiped off your record. If you've been convicted of murder, Amy Weirich says you should still be serving your sentence.