Under Utah law, a convicted criminal can qualify for having their record expunged under limited and specific circumstances. This process seals the records pertaining to the convict’s arrest, investigation, detention, and conviction; the public—including potential employers—can no longer access the record.
Last fall, in speaking with attorneys representing low-income Utahns, we learned that the law prevented a person from expunging their record if they owed any money at all to the state—whether or not that debt had anything to do with the crime.
For example, if a person otherwise qualified for expungement but owed money on an unpaid parking ticket, the separate and unrelated crime would remain on their record. The problem with this predicament is that the past crime created an obstacle for that person to find a job, thus reducing their ability to pay off the debt.
This catch-22 presented a very real problem for many Utahns with debts they were unable to pay. To correct this, we proposed an amendment to Senate Bill 62, sponsored by Senator Todd Weiler, that would only disqualify a person for expungement due to a debt if that debt was related to the crime; unrelated debts could no longer prevent expungement
SB 62 passed the Senate unanimously and passed the House 59-6. Going forward low-income Utahns will no longer have this arbitrary obstacle in their way, making it easier to find gainful employment and resolve their debts to society and the state.