Bill Description: House Bill 149 would permit certain criminal records to be sealed under specific circumstances.
NOTE: House Bill 149 is very similar to House Bill 104, introduced earlier this session. Compared to its predecessor, House Bill 149 adds five additional misdemeanors that could never be sealed.
Does it directly or indirectly create or increase penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for nonviolent crimes? Conversely, does it eliminate or decrease penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for non-violent crimes?
Lawmakers have considered various iterations of what is sometimes called the "Clean Slate Act" over the years, all seeking to provide a path for individuals to have their criminal records sealed, as long as the crimes are not of a violent or sexual nature.
The primary purpose of sealing records is to remove the effective life sentence that carrying a criminal conviction can impose on a person, no matter how minor the offense.
House Bill 149 would take a very conservative approach to this idea, amending Section 67-3004, Idaho Code, to allow an individual to file a petition to shield records of a conviction for a nonviolent offense "no earlier than five (5) years after completing the petitioner's sentence, including all ordered probation, parole, fines, and restitution; provided that during such five (5) year period and until the time of a hearing on the petition, the petitioner has not had any subsequent felony or misdemeanor convictions and is not on probation or parole for a subsequent conviction, has no misdemeanor or felony cases pending against him, and has no restraining orders against him in effect at the time of filing the petition to shield the records."
Additionally, "a person may have only one (1) petition granted during such person's lifetime to have one (1) of the crimes eligible under this subsection, or more than one (1) eligible crime under this subsection if committed in a single incident or transaction, shielded from disclosure pursuant to this subsection."
At most, a court may "order all records in the petitioner's case in the custody of the court to be shielded from disclosure and unavailable for public viewing." Law enforcement, prosecuting attorneys, and the court will still have "complete access to and use of all records shielded from disclosure pursuant to this subsection."
Furthermore, law enforcement agencies, prosecuting attorneys, and courts are all explicitly shielded from any "civil or criminal liability for the unintentional or negligent release, or the release by a third party, of a record shielded from disclosure pursuant to this subsection."
The only real impact of having a record shielded under these very narrow provisions is found in the amendment that would be made to Section 74-105, Idaho Code, by House Bill 149. This is the section defining what records are exempt from disclosure under Idaho's public records law.
A new subsection would be added to this list, saying, "Any index, report, or records of any person arrested for, prosecuted for, or convicted of a crime in this state who has successfully petitioned a court to have his records shielded from disclosure pursuant to section 67-3004(11), Idaho Code."
House Bill 149 offers a very limited opportunity for nonviolent offenders to have a single criminal record shielded from public disclosure and to be able to more easily move on with their lives.