March 29, 2019

The Division of Criminal Justice opposes S.B. No. 691, An Act Concerning Erasure of Criminal Records and respectfully requests the Committee take NO ACTION on this legislation.

Under current law, erasure of criminal records is reserved for individuals who successfully complete a diversionary program, receive a not guilty verdict after a trial, receive a nolle prosequi from the prosecutor and thirteen months elapses or receive a pardon from the Board of Pardons and Parole.  This bill will automatically wipe clean a person’s record in three years for a misdemeanor and five years for most felonies.  Erasure severely limits and for most purposes prevents the use of any associated record of an offense from both the public and law enforcement’s view.

This bill will greatly impact the ability of the DCJ to appropriately decide issues such as sentencing recommendations, bail decisions, issuance of protective orders, punishing serious repeat offenders and thereby endanger the public at large.  Many determinations in criminal court are based on metrics that weigh the chance of recidivism on a person’s prior criminal history.  Judges factor prior criminal history in sentences and the data associated with those arrests play a key role in the recommendations of the probation officer in pre-sentence reports.  This bill will not only erase “the record”, it will wipe from view all documentation preserved by all government agencies associated with that arrest.

These societal collateral consequences and effect on public safety need to be considered by the legislature when weighing the benefits of this legislation for the convicted individual.

Many convictions that would be of great importance to decision makers throughout the criminal justice system would be removed from view in a few short years.  Some of these offenses include:

  • Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Minor
  • Sexual Assault in a Spousal Cohabitant Relationship
  • Sexual Assault in the Second Degree involving School Teachers and Therapists
  • DUI Related Homicides including Manslaughter 2nd with a Motor Vehicle
  • Misconduct with a Motor Vehicle
  • Assault on a Pregnant Person Resulting in Loss of Pregnancy
  • Kidnapping in the 2nd Degree and Kidnapping in the 2nd Degree with a Firearm
  • Home Invasion
  • Carjacking
  • All Larcenies no matter the amount stolen
  • All crimes of Public Corruption including Bribery, Witness Intimidation, Perjury and Receiving Kickbacks
  • All Bias offenses
  • All Firearms Possession Offenses.Erasure will allow offenders to reapply for a carry permit.
  • Child Pornography Offenses
  • Escape from Custody
  • Stalking in the 2nd Degree

As you can see, conviction on many of these offenses create implications that go beyond the convicted individual and need to be considered by the criminal justice system and others in future years.  The ability to own a firearm, a history of domestic partner violence which may continue from one partner to the next, DUI offenders ability to avoid increased penalties for subsequent offenses, premature removal of sex offenders from the requirements of sex offender registration and white collar criminals ability to return to their chosen field involving the handling of others money are just some of the areas where decision makers would be left in the dark.

In conclusion, the Division respectfully recommends the Committee take no action on S.B. 691.  We thank the Committee for affording this opportunity to provide input on this matter and would be happy to provide any additional information to the Committee or to answer any questions that you may have.