Over the last couple years, Utah has made some major changes in it’s expungement eligibility guidelines–almost all of them for the good. The most important change has made it easier for people with several drug possession offenses to get them expunged, but the changes also make it easier for people with other sorts of convictions. Specifically, they’ve changed the way that convictions are counted. That’s important, because you can be ineligible to expunge any conviction if you have too many total convictions on your record. Here are the most important changes:
Drug Possession Offenses and Other Offenses Now Counted Separately
As recently as 2015, your convictions were all counted together. That is, if you had a mix, say, of 5 total convictions on your record, you probably weren’t eligible to expunge any convictions. As long as they were criminal convictions, they were put in the same pile.
BUT, ever since the new law went into effect in late 2015, drug possession convictions are put in a separate pile. So, if you have those same 5 convictions, but 3 of them are drug possession offenses and the other two are random class B misdemeanors (like retail theft or DUI), you may be eligible to expunge all your convictions now.
There are other factors to look at, but in general this is an improvement, and a recognition that people who racked up several drug possession offenses are not necessarily life-time criminals, they were just people with a drug problem for a while. To figure out if this change helped you, check my page on Expungement Eligibility, or get in touch with my firm directly and we’ll help you figure it out.
Several Minor Regulatory Offenses No Longer Count At All
Another important change that took effect in 2015 was the types of convictions that are counted against you. They used to count several types of minor offenses against you when determining eligibility, with only a few exceptions. Offenses like Driving without Insurance or Expired Vehicle Registration counted against your total. That was important, because even if you didn’t want to expunge your conviction for Dog Without a Leash, that Dog Without a Leash conviction could keep you from being eligible to expunge anything.
Now, the list of exceptions has grown to include all “minor regulatory offenses” as defined under statute (Utah Code 77-40-102(10), if you’re interested). Most importantly, pretty much all traffic and vehicle-related offenses do not count against your total anymore (except for DUI and Reckless Driving). Again, to figure out if this change helped you, feel free to get in touch or check my page on eligibility.
After 10-years of Clean Living, People Get a “Free” Conviction
Ok, so the way I worded that does not make it sound like a good thing, but it is. Let’s say you’ve got too many total convictions to be eligible for expungement but you’re right on the border–you have just one too many convictions to be eligible to expunge anything! Cruel fate and the whims of the Utah legislature have merely taunted you with eligibility.
It used to be that the only way to try and get eligible was through a process called a “402 Reduction.” For some people that is still the best and quickest option, but for those people whose convictions are all long in their past, the legislature has granted a slight reprieve by giving them an “extra” conviction in the count. Specifically, if it has been a full 10 years since you were last convicted or released from incarceration or probation, then the eligibility limits all increase by one.
One more time, contact my firm or check my page on eligibility guidelines to find out if these changes have helped you personally. I hope they have.Content by Dain Smoland (Google+)