This past legislative session the legislature contemplated making two substantial changes to the laws relating to the expungement of criminal records. Both attempts, for the time being, have failed.
First, the legislature considered changing the “vacate” law for misdemeanor convictions, which would have allowed persons to vacate up to four non-felony convictions from their criminal history. (See Substitute House Bill #1087) When a conviction is vacated, the guilty finding is removed and the charge is dismissed. Record of the conviction is removed from the official criminal history. Presently, a person may vacate only a single misdemeanor conviction. Therefore, the proposed change in law would have a profound impact for persons with more than one non-felony conviction. But, for the time being, this law will not change.
Second, the legislature considered changing the law for juvenile offenders to require that almost all records of juvenile cases be immediately sealed. (Engrossed Substitute House Bill #1651; Second Substitute Senate Bill #5689) The juvenile court statutes differ from other rules in that the act of sealing a file also acts to vacate any conviction associated with the file. Presently, all juvenile records are public record, but a person may seek to vacate and seal records as early as two years following the conclusion of the case. Therefore, this proposed change in law would also have a profound impact. But, for the time being, this law will no change.
Last, as we wrote earlier, the State Supreme Court will be reviewing the Court of Appeals decision in the case Encarnacion v. Hundtofte. Argument is scheduled for June 13, 2013. The Encarnacion decision has had a profound impact on the ability to seal court records to help persons pass background checks for employment purposes. We will post the Court's decision later this year.