House Bill 450
149th General Assembly (2017 - 2018)
Out of Committee 6/20/18
The General Assembly has ended, the current status is the final status.
AN ACT TO AMEND TITLES 4, 10, 11, AND 16 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EXPUNGEMENT OF ADULT CRIMINAL RECORDS.
There is a growing body of research regarding the detrimental effects to an individual and to society relating to the collateral consequences of arrests and criminal convictions. To name just a few, a criminal history is a significant barrier to obtaining and advancing in a job, finding housing, and gaining additional skills or education. Inability to participate in society in these basic ways contributes to Delaware’s high rate of recidivism and lowers the overall productivity and efficiency of the State. One way to relieve these consequences is to allow for the expungement of records if (1) an arrest did not lead to a guilty disposition or (2) an isolated conviction has been followed by a significant amount of time spent staying out of trouble with the law. At present, Delaware allows adults to petition to have a record expunged in only 2 circumstances: (1) if the arrest or charges never led to a conviction and (2) after a pardon is granted for certain misdemeanor offenses only. This Act allows for mandatory expungement (meaning the expungement must be granted if the petitioner meets the criteria) through the State Bureau of Identification if: (1) a person was arrested or charged but the case was resolved in favor of the petitioner; (2) after 3 years for a single violation; (3) after 5 years for a single misdemeanor. In all cases, a person is eligible for expungement if the person has no prior or subsequent convictions (with an exception for status offenses such as underage alcohol consumption). Allowing expungements for arrests without convictions and minor, isolated convictions through an application to the State Bureau of Identification will ease the burden on the Courts and the Board of Pardons. This Act also gives the Courts the power to decide if a petitioner deserves an expungement, a process called discretionary expungement, if the person seeking the expungement has maintained an otherwise clean record and (1) 1 year has passed since conviction of a violation; (2) 3 years have passed since conviction of a misdemeanor; or (3) 7 years have passed since conviction of a felony or since release from confinement, whichever is later. In all cases, a person is eligible for discretionary expungement if they have no prior or subsequent convictions (with an exception for status offenses such as underage alcohol consumption and for Title 21 driving offenses other than driving under the influence). The person must demonstrate that the failure to grant the expungement would constitute manifest injustice. The Act also creates an avenue for automatic expungement of a person’s criminal record after a pardon has been granted. This new provision for automatic expungement does not limit the Governor’s authority to limit the right to an expungement as a condition of the pardon in any individual case. This Act strikes the Title 10 provisions related to expungement of charges for adults in Family Court and consolidates all provisions relating to expungement of adult records in Title 11. It also makes some conforming changes to cross-references in Title 4 and Title 16. This Act also makes technical corrections to conform existing law to the standards of the Delaware Legislative Drafting Manual. Finally, implementation of this Act is delayed for 180 days to allow State agencies to prepare necessary procedures and forms.
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Takes effect upon being signed into law