Lawmakers to debate record expungement bill

Posted at: 03/12/2013 6:17 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Lawmakers in the state House of Representatives expect a fierce debate in the final days of the legislative session on a bill that would allow thousands of criminal charges to be wiped off the record.

The legislation is not just aimed at wrongfully arrested people whose charges were later dismissed. It's also aimed at some who've been convicted of misdemeanors, and it even includes the victims of identity theft.

Twelve years ago a crook stole Mark Medley's I.D. and was using it when he was arrested and convicted of car theft. Mark William Elliot is still doing time for what he did to Medley and other crimes.

Years later, Medley learned that he himself has a criminal record because Elliot used his name.

"To this day when I go up to the Department of Public Safety and they do a background check on me with my Social Security number and name and such, an eight page report comes up with a laundry list of felonies on it - still."

It's the part of the bill that would allow some people convicted of misdemeanors to seek a wipeout of their criminal records that gives some lawmakers heartburn. Rep. Nora Espinoza owns a small business in Roswell with her husband.

"When I go and do a background check on someone I will not know if he's a felon," Espinoza said. "I will not know is he has embezzled from another company. That information is pertinent if I'm hiring someone that is going to know everything about my finances, my business."

Criminal defense lawyers in the legislature love this bill. Retired cops hate it. There are some of both in the House, and that means fireworks when they clash.