Palm Beach County residents - and anyone in Florida who can attend - may be able to erase their criminal records at the expungement fair being hosted by Expeal and PAX Campus. Everyone who attends, including some convicted felons, can also register to vote at the same event.
Florida-based Expeal is partnering with PAX Campus to host the free event on the weekend of September 10 and 11 in Lake Worth at the PAX Campus facility, located at 508 Lucerne Avenue. Specifically, it will take place on Saturday, September 10, from 1 pm to 4pm and Sunday, September 11, from 10 am to 4 pm. At the fair, people who have been charged but not convicted can determine their eligibility for sealing or expunging their record, people who have been convicted can find out if they qualify to have their rights restored – including their right to vote, and anyone else can find out what they have to do to apply for a pardon. Voter registration will also be available to everyone, for free.
Omid Ghaffari-Tabrizi, a licensed Florida attorney and founder of Expeal, will be on hand to help people learn exactly what they have to do. "So many people don't realize that even an arrest creates a criminal record that needs to be sealed or expunged, even if the person is never even charged, let alone convicted," he says. "Arrests and charges remain on a person's record for life unless they get them sealed or expunged."
For people in Florida who have a criminal record, their efforts to find a job, rent an apartment, go to school, and even improve their credit, are damaged. Florida is also consistently at the top of the list of states that have the most disenfranchised citizens. Expeal wants to do their part to improve Florida's position through this free Expeal Fair.
Having been deemed an activist for his charitable work, including helping ex-cons raise money for a juvenile detention facility in Texas, Omid knows how different a person's life can be with a clean record. People who have their records sealed or expunged will have all the records related to the case removed from the public record. This means that they can answer any questions about the arrest as if it never happened. In fact, people with sealed or expunged records often earn up to 30% more than people who don't clear their records.
To make sure as many people as possible can be reached, the event will be open to the public. "The entire purpose of this fair is to educate the public about the options and opportunities available to people in Florida as well as around the country." Omid says. The process to remove a criminal record is different from state to state. Expeal has developed a system to help guide people through every available process to seal or expunge a record in all 50 states plus Washington D.C. and the US Virgin Islands.
Omid continued, saying "We want to make sure everyone who has a criminal record knows what they can do to manage the impact of that record." With the free assistance being provided by Expeal, the hope is that everyone will be able to achieve the stability, self-sufficiency, and success they have earned.
For those who wish to register to vote or update their voter registration, Expeal is also a licensed third-party voter registration organization for Florida voters. Expeal will be able to collect the necessary information to ensure attendees can vote in the upcoming Presidential election before the deadline. The deadline to submit the required paperwork to register to vote or update a registration is October 11.
Omid points out that the reason for combining the voter registration fair with the expungement fair is to help push through real criminal justice reform. "The individuals who have dealt with the criminal justice system are not the only ones who are impacted by the ways in which the laws are enforced. Their families – children, spouses, siblings, parents – all feel the same pain and pressure that comes from a brush with the law. By restoring the right of convicted felons to vote and by registering those who haven't yet registered to vote, we hope that this election will allow the voices of the ex-con and almost ex-con community to be heard."
The Expeal Fair is open to anyone who attends. Pre-registration, which will help make sure there are enough volunteers to see everyone, is available on Facebook, by calling Expeal toll-free at (844) 839-7325, or by emailing email@example.com.