If you received an email notice from The Access Project that you need to submit a “declaration” for your expungement petitions, read on! This page will explain what you need to do and give you options for getting help. See below for everything you need to prepare your declaration.
If you did not hear from us that you need a declaration, you can skip this step.
Preparing your Declaration for Court: Deadline September 30!
Some clean slate remedies are “mandatory,” meaning that the law says you are automatically entitled to what you are asking for. Most cases are “discretionary,” meaning that the judge needs to look at evidence to decide whether to grant your request.
So legally, a declaration is the evidence that the judge uses to decide whether to grant a petition for expungement. But really, it’s just a way for you to tell your story to the judge, showing the person you are beyond what your RAP sheet says.
Click the blue FAQs below for more details.
What goes in to a declaration?
A declaration usually has three parts:
- Your Personal Statement: this is basically a letter from you to the judge explaining what was happening in your life when you had your convictions and how things have changed since then.
- Supporting Materials: pretty much any document that shows that you have moved on in your life. Some examples are school transcripts, certificates showing that you have completed rehab, enrollment in job training programs, or awards for volunteering.
- Letters of Support: these are just like letters of recommendation or character references. They can be from anyone who has good things to say about you – professors, current or former supervisors, sponsors or sponsees, loved ones, neighbors, coaches, fellow volunteers, even your kids!
How do I gather letters of support?
You can ask anyone who you are comfortable asking, and who can talk about your character and any changes you’ve made in your life. Most often, letter writers are professors, advisors, past or current supervisors, loved ones, sponsors or sponsees, coaches, clergy or spiritual advisors, or people you’ve volunteered with.
Ask for letters of support as early as possible to give your supporters time to write something for you. Give them an example to follow and be sure they know that the deadline is September 30!
Letters of support can be handwritten notes, typed letters, (whether on professional stationery or not), or emails. We’ve even submitted crayon letters from small children!
Usually, applicants submit one to three letters of support, but if you don’t feel comfortable asking for letters from anyone, or if they don’t get done in time, don’t worry!
Letters of support are helpful but not necessary. You can file your petition without them.
How do I write my personal statement?
Your statement should be one to two pages long, and should give the judge a sense of who you are and why they should grant your petition. Without it, the judge only sees your record of convictions – and that is not representative of who you are. We’ve provided many samples below to get you started. Take a look at them, and then use this form to start your draft. A copy of what you fill in will be sent to you as a word document, and you can continue to work on it from there.
If you need more help, you can email us and ask that a volunteer be assigned to interview you and help create your draft, but please try using the form first. It will help you and the volunteer work together more efficiently. Either way, someone from The Access Project will review your draft and suggest any needed edits before we file it.
What do I do with supporting documents?
Gather anything you think might be useful and then mail or email the documents to us, and we will add it to your file. When we finalize your petitions with you, we will help you decide what to include.