Senate Bill 698 would automatically identify Oregonians accused or convicted of misdemeanors and most felonies – an estimated 300,000 – as eligible to have their criminal records expunged if the legislation passes.
The Oregon Judicial Department would be required to create the system to identify any records of convictions, arrests, citations and charges that are eligible to be expunged and send those names to presiding judges, who would, in turn, be required to file an order to seal their records within 30 days.
Senate Bill 697 would eliminate a requirement that the people get their fingerprints taken as part of the existing expungement application process.
People in Oregon can currently file a petition to have their criminal records removed from court records, but advocates of the Clean Slate bills said the system is arduous and complicated. Most people don’t know about the process or find it too cumbersome to navigate, advocates say.
The bills would apply to the same people who now fall into categories that qualify for consideration:
They must have completed their sentence or probation and paid all fines, fees or restitution for a Class B or C felony or a misdemeanor. A waiting period must also have passed from the date a person was convicted or released from prison, ranging from seven years for a Class B felony, including such crimes as aggravated theft or second-degree manslaughter, to one year after a Class B or C misdemeanor, including theft of under $100 or harassment.
They also must now get fingerprinted, file paperwork with Oregon State Police and pay a fee, then submit an application to have their record expunged with the court or district attorney where their charge or conviction happened.
It’s one thing to expunge criminal records for things, like marijuana possession, that are no longer a crime. But it’s another thing altogether to expunge criminal records for person-to-person felonies. I see no reason why someone shouldn’t be known for what they’ve done.
This feels like another surrender to criminals and kick in the teeth to law-abiding citizens.