opinions, everybody's got one...
Saturday, April 16, 2005
Cops on Doughnut Shops
I'm all for camping out, but I'm not sure that my first choice of a place to do so would be on the roof of a Krispy Kreme Doughnuts shop.
Then again, it might be if it were for a good reason. Like helping to support the Special Olympics.
Three Delaware police officers are spending 54 hours atop a donut shop near the Governors Square Shopping Center off U.S. 40. With tent and sleeping bags set up, it's an interesting place to rough it out. They will be there today, and tomorrow until noon, and hope to raise money for the Special Olympics. If you find yourself in the area, you might want to consider stopping by, and cheering them on.
Here's a link to more about Special Olympics Delaware if you missed this event, but are interested in seeing what they are up to next, and how you can help out.
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
Last week when I posted an entry indicating that we had received an increase in requests for Living Wills ( aka Advanced HealthCare Directives), I referenced the Schiavo case and how I felt that it had influenced many of these new inquiries.
I hadn't followed with particularity the Schiavo case(s). Today, I looked at Abstract Appeal and its Schiavo Information Page. I was stunned by the complexity and length of the history of the case, and feel even more sorry for the people involved.
Monday, April 11, 2005
What is Expungement?
Basically, expungement is the sealing of a person's criminal record. The expungement process does not erase the criminal record, but simply seals the record from public view. All copies of the record are shredded and erased from databases except for a sealed copy kept at the office of the Supervisor of the State Bureau of Identification. 11 Del. C. §4373. The sealed records can then only be viewed by a court or by "law-enforcement officers acting in the lawful performance of their duties...or for the purpose of an employment application as an employee of a law-enforcement agency." 11 Del. C. §4374.
Why is this important? Because a criminal record can hurt an innocent person's opportunities to gain employment, education, and credit. By expunging a criminal record, potential employers, schools and lenders aren't able to learn of an innocent person's past arrests.
Who is eligible for expungement? 11 Del. C. §4372 sets out three specific circumstances where expungement of a Delaware criminal record can be expunged. The first is when a person is acquitted (found not guilty) of a crime. The second is when a nolle prosequi (the state decides to drop the charges) is entered. The third is a dismissal by the Court. If any of these three circumstances occurs, the person charged is eligible to petition the Superior Court for an expungement. The petition and the proposed order ask the Court to expunge the record. It is up to the Superior Court to review the petition and decide if the expungement shall be granted or not.
If a person has an old conviction, can a new acquittal be expunged? No, if there are any convictions on a person's record, then the record cannot be expunged. A record is expunged so that an innocent person will not be hindered by an arrest record. If someone is found or pleads guilty, the damage is already done.
When should an expungement petition be filed? As soon as possible. A petition for expungement of criminal records should be filed right after the person becomes eligible either by acquittal, nolle prosequi, or dismissal. This way, the potential creditors or employers who would be able to see the record is kept to a minimum.
Even after an expungement is granted, it is still a good idea to have a criminal record search done a few months later to make sure the expungement process was completed. If the expungement has been successful, no record will be found.
Generally, while the drafting of a petition for expungement can be complicated, expungement is a relatively simple and inexpensive process. The problem is that many people and their lawyers are so happy to be done with a criminal case that they forget all about expunging the record. A criminal record is something that most people don't think about until it comes back to haunt them. An expungement is a relatively easy way to alleviate those headaches down the line.
NOTE: This post refers to expungement for criminal records of adults. A post on expungements for juvenile records will be coming soon.
Here are a few expungement related articles on celebrities:
First daughter, Jenna Bush
Basketball star, Allen Iverson
Pop singer and talent judge, Paula Abdul
In response to my entry of 4/11/05 about expungement, we received an email from John Sandy, Esquire of Stumpf Vickers & Sandy, P.A. in Georgetown, Delaware. He notes that when there is a previous conviction, it is still sometimes possible to get a new criminal charge expunged. He says in part:
I have twice been successful in having the "Mental Patient" notation removed (sealed) from the SBI record. In both cases SBI itself vehemently opposed and the DOJ took up their position. The cases, about 5 years apart, were nearly identical. Both involved young women applying for jobs that required a background check. As I recollect, they were both applying for teaching positions. At the time of their petitions both were in their mid twenties. In each case, when they were 15 or 16, they threatened (but did not attempt) suicide over breakups with boyfriends. In both cases, alarmed parents enlisted the aid of the State Police and 72 hour commitments were procured. Both girls were released before the 72 hours elapsed and neither ever had any other problem. Clearly, a background check would have been severely detrimental to their teaching careers. A reading of the statue clearly stated that "adult" commitments were to be reported. Despite the fact that the records should never have been made available to SBI the State opposed sealing the record. In both cases the court (Graves in one and Bradley in the other) granted the motion. I am surprised that some of the mental health advocates have not taken up the issue of the inclusion of this information in the SBI records.
Thank you Mr. Sandy for your insights.