Fresh Start program this Saturday can help you get your criminal record sealed, other services for free

The Fresh Start Program is the brainchild of some Harris County Misdemeanor Court Judges.

"My colleagues and I came together, and said, 'hey, what can we do to promote safety in our communities and also give individuals an opportunity to get their lives back and track," said Judge Tonya Jones with Harris County Criminal Court at Law #15. 

RELATED: Criminal records sealed, more free services offered at Fresh Start Resource Fair Saturday

Sometimes one bad decision can haunt you for years, like a misdemeanor or felony on your record.

"It affects people getting loans, it affects people getting jobs, it affects renting an apartment," said Veronica Nelson, staff attorney for Harris County Courts.

If your sentence was deferred probation, and you completed it successfully, you have no final conviction. But it still shows up on a background check.

On Saturday, you can find out if you qualify for a non-disclosure if the charge is non-violent and doesn't involve a gun.

"We and the public defender's office should be able to look up their case, no matter how old it is, and make a determination of whether or not they are eligible for this automatic petition for non-disclosure," said Nelson.

"There is a focus on families and children. Since it's around Halloween, we are going to have a costume contest," Jones said.


While the kids are having fun, parents can get answers to just about anything.

"If you just simply need a hand, including educational training any kind, of social benefits, like CHIP or SNAP, even HIV testing, is available. We have so many resources that are for everyone," said Judge Toria Finch with Harris County Criminal Court at Law #19.

Whether you've served time in prison or have never been arrested, there's something for you at Saturday's Fresh Start event.

"Some barriers are a little harder to get over than others. But we want to inspire and let people know that there is hope, and there are opportunities to continue to move forward with your life, and be productive members of society," Jones said.