Thursday, April 28, 2016

Phones ringing for felony eraser


Gov. Matt Bevin recently signed into law House Bill 40, giving non-violent felony offenders an opportunity to have their criminal record erased.

Now, the phone is already ringing at Crittenden County Courthouse.

Crittenden Circuit Clerk Melissa Guill said more than a half-dozen people contacted her office in the first few days after the bill became law through strong bipartisan support.

HB 40 will allow Kentuckians convicted of certain Class D felonies who have paid their debt to society, stayed out of trouble as required by the law and have shown that they are indeed trying to get back on track to erase their criminal records and get a second chance at jobs, voting, owning a firearm, housing and other opportunities sometimes denied felons, the governor’s office said in a news release issued last week.

Guill said her office cannot accept any applications for the new process until the law goes into effect on July 15. Several questions remain about the details of how felons will go about applying to have their rights restored. Guill said she is telling everyone who calls to check back at the end of this month. She hopes to have more information by then.

The bill’s language, written by Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, allows felons not to expunge their records, but erase them after meeting certain requirements, such as a five-year waiting period and completing all sentence requirements. The bill passed in the Senate 33-5 and later in the House 84-13.

What Guill believes is that there will be an application fee of $500. A person can file the forms with or without an attorney.

Approval will also be required from Kentucky State Police, which will do a thorough check to determine whether the offenses meet the requirements of HB 40.

“They will have to make sure the felonies are ones allowed to be expunged,” Guill said.

Otherwise, there are many details about the process that the clerk’s office will have to determine prior to allowing anyone to begin the process.

Guill said most of the calls she’s taking are from people who believe they will have a better chance to find quality employment once their record is clear.

There are 61 Class D felony offenses that will fall under the new law, capturing about 70 percent of the Class-D felon population, according to the governor’s office.