SALT LAKE CITY – On March 28, Gov. Gary Herbert signed legislation automating the process for individuals to have minor criminal records expunged, allowing them to overcome barriers to employment, housing, and education after remaining crime-free for a period of time.
HB 431 was sponsored by Rep. Eric Hutchings, R-Kearns, and Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley City, and passed unanimously in both chambers earlier this month, making Utah the second state in the nation to adopt Clean Slate legislation. Clean Slate is a policy initiative that uses technology to streamline a state’s existing process for expunging records so that more people get the second chances for which they are already eligible.
Since the passage of Pennsylvania’s bill last June, state legislatures across the country have begun considering Clean Slate bills.
The Crime and Justice Institute provided policy development assistance in Utah and supports Clean Slate efforts in other states.
The cost of criminal records is staggering. One in three Americans have some kind of criminal record, and nearly half of all children in the United States have at least one parent with a criminal record. The U.S. economy loses an estimated $87 billion in GDP every year due to people with criminal records being excluded from the workforce.
With one of the fastest growing economies in the nation, Utah’s employers have struggled to meet their workforce needs. Expungement of old criminal records provides a direct path to increasing employability for Utahns, but the current petition process is so complex, expensive, and cumbersome that it effectively prevents most individuals who are eligible to clear their records from doing so.
HB 431 creates an automated expungement process for a subset of offenses currently eligible under Utah law, shifting the burden from the individual to the appropriate state agencies to process the expungement. Eligible individuals will not have to file a petition or pay fees to clear the record of the qualifying offense.
To be eligible for automatic expungement under this legislation, an individual must:
- Have the number and type of Utah offenses that would eligible for expungement under existing state law
- Be crime-free from the date they were sentenced for those offenses for the following time periods:
- 5 years for a Class C misdemeanor
- 6 years for a Class B misdemeanor
- 7 years for a Class A misdemeanor (drug possession only)
All felonies and certain misdemeanors are ineligible for automatic expungement, including sex offenses, violent offenses, DUI offenses, and person-on-person offenses.
HB 431 received support from the Salt Lake Chamber, the Salt Lake County Mayor’s Office, the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office, the Sutherland Institute, and the Utah Department of Workforce Services.