A measure expunging the criminal records of certain juveniles cleared its first House panel Tuesday.
Rep. Chris Latvala (R-Clearwater) says his bill is meant to streamline the process of expunging the records of minors, who are not serious or habitual offenders. Under current law, he says juveniles must wait until the age of 24 and go through an arduous process to get that record expunged.
After working with the state attorneys, Latvala changed the measure Tuesday to lower that age to 21.
“This amendment requires the complete criminal history record of non-serious juvenile offenders to be expunged by FDLE [Florida Department of Law Enforcement], when a juvenile offender turns 21-years-old. It permits non-serious juvenile offenders to apply for expunction before turning 21-years-old, providing the juvenile has not been charged by the state attorney or found to have committed any criminal offenses within the previous five years,” he said.
But, Gainesville Public Defender Stacy Scott had some concerns. She represents the Florida Public Defenders Association.
“We are in support of this bill, but I do have a minor concern with the amendment in terms of leaving total discretion to the state attorneys to reject an application for a minor to expunge their record when they’re between the ages of 18 and 21,” said Scott. “And, we would look forward to working with the sponsor to perhaps provide at least some sort of appellate provision or some other outlet that a juvenile could still seek that, even if the state attorney objects.”
Still, the measure passed the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee unanimously. Meanwhile, its Senate companion has not yet had a hearing.
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