Got an old bad check charge on your record? How about an embarrassing shoplifting conviction? Well, North Charleston police are offering to help teach you how to wipe that slate clean.

The police department will hold community workshops Wednesday and Nov. 16 to walk people through the process of getting certain charges removed from their criminal records.

It all sounds somewhat counterintuitive for folks who spend their days locking people up. But police see it as an opportunity to help people who have hit "a bump in the road" get back on track and become productive members of society, said Lt. Joyce Smith, who heads the department's office of professional standards.

"Hopefully, this will enable individuals to start a new journey toward improving their employment, self-esteem and personal stability in the community," she said.

Expungements deal with erasing criminal records relating to an arrest or conviction. This process is not for convicted murderers, drug kingpins or other hard-core felons.

Expungements are generally reserved for cases in which:

Among other things, the forum will provide information on what type of convictions can be expunged, how much the process costs and how it can affect future employment.

Elder James Johnson, who serves on a citizens police advisory committee, has encouraged police to hold such a forum. He said he is regularly approached by people who have trouble getting hired for jobs because they have criminal convictions on their records. This leaves them in desperate straits, he said.

"If we want to cut down on crime, why don't we give people a chance to get back in the workforce and do the right thing?" he said.

Reach Glenn Smith at 937-5556 or