Time shortened for expunging many criminal records

Typically an employer will ask job applicants to present what is called a hoja de delincuencia to show they have not been convicted of crimes.

Many do not realize that individuals can remove mention of a conviction from their record after 10 years. Now the legislature has reduced that period for many crimes.

Lawmakers worked into the night Thursday to approve bill No.  18.650 that makes a distinction between major and lesser crimes.

Those who have been convicted of murder, sex crimes involving minors, terrorism or being a member of a criminal organization still have to wait 10 years after leaving prison to wipe their record clean.

But due to the action Thursday night, some can immediately seek changes in their record after leaving prison if they have been sentenced to three years or less.

Those completing a sentence of from three to five years have to wait for a year. Someone who served a sentence of from five to 10 years would have towait for three years before seeking to clean the record.

Someone who served a sentence of 10 years or more would have to wait five years to change the record, according to the bill.

Conviction information is kept by the Registro y Archivos Judiciales, and this is the agency that would have to eliminate the notation of the conviction. Private credit reporting agencies and newspaper archives still would list convicted individuals.

Lawmakers took this action because many thought that those convicted for a lesser felony should not face same time limit as those convicted for a major crime. They also sought ways so that former convicts could obtain training and enter certain professions without the stain of their past actions on their record. Only those who have not been convicted of a second crime are eligible, according to the bill.

The hundreds of convicts who are being released to ease prison overcrowding would be able to take advantage of the new law.

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