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Bipartisan Effort Renewed Making It Easier To Expunge Certain Juvenile Records

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Some Florida lawmakers are renewing a bipartisan effort making it easier to expunge the records of certain juvenile offenders.

Last session, a bill stalled in the Florida Legislature to expunge the criminal records of minors not deemed serious or habitual offenders. Now, Rep. Chris Latvala (R-Clearwater) has filed a similar bill again. And, he says the idea stemmed from a young woman in his district—a former foster kid who pled guilty to a felony years ago.

“You know, anytime, she fills out a job application, she has to put down that she’s a felon, and the felony that she was convicted of was throwing an egg out of her car window at a friend of hers when she was 16,” said Latvala.

This year’s measure would allow for the expungement of a minor’s record—on a case by case basis—after a five-year period. For example, if a 17-year-old commits an offense, their record could be expunged when they turn 22.

“You know, there’s a difference between being a hardened criminal and doing something stupid,” Latvala added. “And, so, what we’re trying to do is the kids that made mistakes with their friends or for instance, throwing an egg out a car window or rolling a house, you know, or doing things like that…you know, giving those kids a second shot at becoming productive citizens.”

Rep. Chris Sprowls (R-Palm Harbor) and Rep. Katie Edwards (D-Plantation) also sponsored the measure.

In addition, Latvala says his bill has the backing of both the Public Defender and State Attorney in his area as well as the Pace Center for Girls, James Madison Institute, and the Florida Juvenile Justice Association.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.