Friday, April 1, 2016

Felony expungement bill heading to governor’s desk

Legislation that would allow those convicted of low-level felonies to ask the court to permanently seal—or expunge—their records is on its way to becoming law.

House Bill 40, sponsored by House Judiciary Chair Darryl Owens, D-Louisville, and Rep. David Floyd, R-Bardstown, received final passage today in the House by a vote of 84-13 and will now go to the governor for his signature. The bill includes provisions from Senate Bill 298 that were added to the bill by the Senate when it passed HB 40 by a vote of 33-5 on March 29.

“House Bill 40 is about redemption,” Owens said about HB 40 when it passed the House in January. “It’s about second chances.”

HB 40 would allow those convicted of a Class D felony under any of 61 specific criminal statutes, or who were charged but not formally indicted of a felony, to seek expungement of that conviction or charge five years after they have completed their sentences or probation. Those convicted of a sex crime, a crime against a child, or who have criminal proceedings or violations pending would not be eligible for expungement under the bill.

Courts would also have the discretion under the bill to expunge Class D felonies of those with previous Class D felony convictions unless the previous conviction was for a sex offense, a crime against a child, or if there is a criminal proceeding or violation pending against the individual.

Kentucky law currently allows for expungement of misdemeanors and violations. Those are lesser crimes than felonies which include offenses like shoplifting, bad check writing, and driving on a suspended license.