Recently, Representative Karianna Lisonbee introduced House Bill 252 (HB 252) in Utah. This bill would streamline the expungement process. According to the proposal, Utah would temporarily pause automatic expungement.
State officials commented that HB 252 would allow them to focus resources on greater needs. For example, they could concentrate on expungement petitions during this time. In addition, Rep. Lisonbee communicated that local law enforcement agencies have fallen behind on expunging criminal records.
The current quote estimates a backlog of over half a million. It would take approximately five years to clear the backlog at this pace. Rep. Lisonbee also said that the backlog consists of people with misdemeanors affecting their lives. As such, she wants them to get the expungements so they can finally move on.
HB 252 would pause automatic expungements for three years. She also clarified how long it would take if people decided to use the current system for their expungements. It could take over three years to batch and process the expungements in Utah’s automatic expungement system.
As a result, Utah HB 252 will prioritize petition-based expungement cases. Most of these petitions involve felony records, which Rep. Lisonbee hopes to expunge swiftly. She explained that these felony-based criminal records impact an individual’s opportunities more than misdemeanors.
Due to this reasoning, Utah aims to address these petitions as swiftly as possible. However, many of the state’s records are on paper, making the job difficult. Local law enforcement agencies must physically sort through their records to find cases eligible for expungement.
Initially, HB 252 would also offer a fee waiver for those at or below 250% of the U.S. poverty line. However, the House Judiciary Committee amended this percentage to 175. One of the representatives pushed to amend the amount. For the Utah code, the percentage is generally 150, but she was willing to have a higher percentage.
As required, HB 252 underwent a public comment. During this period, the Cache County Sheriff, a criminal defense attorney, and others discussed the bill’s potential and drawbacks. After listening to all the comments, the Committee recommended the bill with a 10-1 vote.
Should it pass, many may see a longer delay in expungements as the systems and processes adjust. As such, anyone wishing to continue their current progress may opt out of the change. This decision would allow them to rely on the automatic expungement process to find and seal eligible records.
Information provided here is for educational and informational purposes only and should not constitute as legal advice. We recommend you contact your own legal counsel for any questions regarding your specific practices and compliance with applicable laws.