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Late-Night Tweetstorm Summarizes Proposed Expungement Legislation To Be Hear In House Courts Committee Today

"This bill needs *lots* of work, but would make a tremendous difference in so many lives"

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From Cindy/VAPLAN, check out the following “late-night tweetstorm summarizing the proposed expungement legislation to be heard in House Courts committee [today].”

1/ Late-night tweetstorm summarizing the proposed expungement legislation to be heard in House Courts committee tomorrow. First, the bill is HB5146, patroned by @C_Herring and co-patroned by @SenLouiseLucasin the Senate. https://t.co/4kRvJBEayZ?amp=1

2/ It allows for automatic expungement of arrest, charges, & conviction records for a huge number of crimes. Courts/law enforcement must respond to an inquiry that no record exists. The person convicted may lawfully deny/not disclose that the arrest, charge, conviction occurred.

3/ Exceptions to the expungement/sealing of records:
* background check for gun purchases
* employment in law enforcement
* employment as EMT, or at the DMV
* employment in the courts
* other employment where federal law requires conviction-free

4/ It’s not clear how this set of crimes was chosen. The most violent crimes, class 1 felonies like murder, voluntary manslaughter, rape, sexual assault, genital mutilation, robbery, and any gang-related crimes can’t be expunged. Then it becomes what legislators like to call a Christmas tree

5/ Pick and choose:
* involuntary manslaughter (class 5 felony) expungeable; assault & battery (incl. misdemeanor) not
* possession of heroin/meth (class 6 felony) is; possession of a bong (class 1 misdemeanor) not
* petit larceny expungeable, receiving those stolen goods not.

6/ More:
* Maliciously burning property (class 1 misdemeanor-class 4 felony) expungeable; carelessly burning property (class 4 misdemeanor) not
* Damaging public building (class 1 misdemeanor-class 6 felony) expungeable; damaging a tree or shrub (class 4 misdemeanor) not

7/ Non-expungeable misdemeanors:
* removing shopping cart from store
* unauthorized use of dairy milk crates
* trespassing at night in cemetery
* putting a slug in a parking meter
* permitting animals to run at large

8/ When expungement occurs:
* For acquittal, nolle prosse, or other dismissed charges, immediately, unless there’s good cause for the Commonwealth to oppose, or Commonwealth plans to reinstitute charges w/in 3 months.
* For charges arising due to mistaken identity, immediately.

9/ When expungement occurs (if no further convictions except traffic infractions):
* For deferred disposition, 8 years after dismissal
* For misdemeanor convictions, 8 years after conviction
* For felony convictions, 8 years after conviction or incarceration ends, whichever later

10/ The bill takes effect 2024. Crime Commish will study methods to regulate/restrict dissemination of criminal history record info by private entities and provide a report by Jan. 12, 2021 (because bill doesn’t prevent private databases from collecting/selling sealed records).

11/ This bill needs *lots* of work, but would make a tremendous difference in so many lives, freeing people to move on after getting caught in the criminal justice system, moving VA from only letting acquitted persons petition for expungement, to doing so automatically tor many.