Law to censor convict’s criminal records goes into effect

The Ministerio de Justicia y Paz said Wednesday that a new law has gone into effect that will expunge the criminal record of many lawbreakers.

The law, No.  9361, restricts the judicial archives from including many convictions in a criminal record report. The report, called a hoja de delinquencia, is often requested by employers to assess the moral background of a job candidate.

The expressed purpose of the law is to allow convicts to get a job without letting employers know about their past.

Many court files already are secret, so employers will have to rely on private sources such as credit bureaus to learn about convictions.

The new law says that the record of a convict is expunged immediately upon completion of prison penalty less than three years. When the penalty is from three to five years, the archives have to expunge the record a year after the sentence is completed.

When a penalty is from five to 10 years, the expungement takes place after three years. After serving a penalty of more than 10 years, a convict has to wait five years for a clean record.

A special rule applies to those convicted of organized crime links, terrorism, murder and violation of public duties, said the ministry. These individual have to wait 10 years before obtaining a clean record. That also includes persons convicted of sex crimes with minors, according to the ministry.

The law also gives a judge the ability to reduce the waiting time in cases  of individuals characterized as being in vulnerable situations with dependents.

The law is not expected to have much impact because there are plenty of private sources to learn the criminal history of an individual, such a newspaper archives. Plus only about 15 percent of criminals ever actually are convicted and sentenced, according to statistics released by the Power Judicial.

The archive department in which criminal records are kept has

A member of the Policía Penitenciaria affixes an ankle bracelet that will be used to allow prisoners to remain at home instead of in jail. The demonstration was at a bid opening by the Ministerio de Justicia y Paz. Offers to monitor prisoners came from Empresa de Servicios Públicos de Heredia and Radiográfica Costarricense S.A., the only firms allowed to bid.

A member of the Policía Penitenciaria affixes an ankle bracelet that will be used to allow prisoners to remain at home instead of in jail. The demonstration was at a bid opening by the Ministerio de Justicia y Paz. Offers to monitor prisoners came from Empresa de Servicios Públicos de Heredia and Radiográfica Costarricense S.A., the only firms allowed to bid.

six months to make the necessary adjustments, said the ministry. That means a large number of records will have to be expunged.

The  Ministerio de Justicia y Paz also is the same agency that has been releasing convicts from prison early to reduce overcrowding.

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