State News

Lawmakers pass bill making it easier to clear criminal record

By Elizabeth Hewitt,

Lawmakers gave their final stamp of approval this week to a bill that provides a quicker path to scrubbing certain convictions from a person’s criminal record. Under the new law, individuals convicted of certain crimes they committed before they turned 25 will have an expedited process to expunge their records if they meet requirements for public service. Both chambers approved the bill this week, after it went through a committee of conference.

Under current law, Vermonters can petition for certain nonviolent crimes to be removed from their record 10 years after they were convicted. Felonies and violent offenses are not eligible.

S.115 will allow people who committed a crime before they turned 25 to petition for expungement after just five years, so long as they do not have a new conviction and they meet certain work requirements approved by the Community Justice Network of Vermont. That could include community service, employment, or a year-long term with the military, AmeriCorps or another service organization.

Bobby Sand, the governor’s liaison to criminal justice programs, lauded the legislation as a first for Vermont. Once signed, it will motivate people with low-level convictions to become involved with their communities, Sand said. He expects the concept will gain followers on a national level.

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