CSAO: Judiciary Committee - March 10, 2014 - S.B. No. 366



March 10, 2014

The Division of Criminal Justice respectfully calls to the Committee’s attention our concerns regarding the possible fiscal impact and/or our ability to implement S.B. No. 366, An Act Concerning the Erasure of Records in Delinquency and Family with Service Needs Matters.

This bill would eliminate the need for a juvenile to file a petition to erase the record of conviction for a non-Serious Juvenile Offense (SJO) or an application pursuant to the Families with Service Needs (FWSN) statutes. Currently, unless the juvenile is found not guilty of a non-SJO delinquent act or not adjudicated of a FWSN charge, he or she would have to file a petition to erase the record after meeting the conditions set forth in the statute. This bill would eliminate the need to file a petition and the erasure would occur automatically upon the individual’s 18th birthday, if the conditions were met, or anytime thereafter if the conditions were met.

Similar legislation has been proposed in the past where the problem has been that the Judicial Branch lacks the technical capabilities to automatically determine when an individual would be eligible for erasure of records. Even if this hurdle is overcome, the Division of Criminal Justice still must raise serious concerns about our ability to comply with this legislation if enacted.

The problem is that the current law requires that  “all references including arrest, complaint, referrals, petitions, reports and orders” of such erased cases be removed from all agency files” and that “a finding of delinquency or that the child was a member of a family with service needs shall be deemed never to have occurred.” It also provides that “copies of the erasure order shall be sent to all persons, agencies, officials or institutions known to have information pertaining to the delinquency or family with service needs proceedings affecting such child.”

The problem is that the prosecutors in the juvenile courts do not always get such copies of erasure orders now. If S.B. No. 366 becomes law, it is anticipated that there would be considerably more erasure orders and the greater likelihood that we will not receive notice of these additional erasures. This impacts the prosecutors in the juvenile as well as adult courts because, under certain circumstances, a juvenile’s prior record may be revealed and factor into a subsequent case. If the previous case was erased, and we didn’t receive a copy of the erasure order, we could have a problem if we reveal that record in the subsequent case or in a hearing that is open to the public.

Beyond the fact that we do not already receive notice of all erasure orders, there is also a very real concern as to how the Division would implement and comply with S.B. No. 366. For the most part, there is essentially no one available to track any additional orders and mark each individual case file that the matter has been erased. Only four of our twelve juvenile prosecutors’ offices have any clerical staff whatsoever; in the eight other locations all of the paperwork and clerical duties are handled by the prosecutors and investigators themselves. These dedicated employees already carry a heavy burden in carrying out their duties, which properly must be focused on the substantive issues involved with the disposition of cases. Absent the provision of additional clerical support staff, the Division would respectfully express serious reservations about our ability to effectively implement and monitor the requirements of this bill without additional resources.

Content Last Modified on 3/10/2014 12:51:38 PM