Rep. Patrick Hofschneider San Nicolas (R-Tinian) recently introduced a bill that aims to give a second chance to people with criminal record associated with misdemeanor criminal offenses.
San Nicolas’ House Bill 22-75, or the proposed Expungement Act of 2021, seeks address the issue of law-abiding citizens of the Commonwealth “who are unfairly burdened and unduly prejudiced for life by the stigma” of having a criminal record associated with misdemeanor criminal offenses committed in their past.
“There is evidence that shows our people are trying to move forward with their lives and want to pull themselves up. This bill is going to give people a second chance and that’s all they’re asking for. They’ve served their time, paid their fines, and learned their lesson. They’re sorry and they’ve proven that they want to be a part of our community. However, not everyone can have their cases expunged, only misdemeanors or traffic offenses of which they need to meet certain conditions,” San Nicolas said.
If enacted into law, the bill would amend the Commonwealth Code by adding a new section that allows a person convicted of a misdemeanor or traffic offense in the CNMI to petition the court to expunge all records concerning the conviction in the following circumstances: misdemeanor or traffic offense, after at least five years have passed since the court, Department of Probation, and the Division of Parole have all terminated, lost or relinquished supervision or jurisdiction of the person.
Individuals wishing to petition to expunge their cases must also present to the court whether he/she has been arrested or convicted for a felony, misdemeanor, or petty offense pursuant to Commonwealth or federal law; complied with all orders of the court, Department of Probation, and/or Division of Parole, and for any outstanding bench warrants, fines, fees, costs, or outstanding balances owed to the court, including, but not limited to, any order to pay restitution to any party have been paid. If the court is satisfied that no manifest injustice will be suffered by the granting of the petition for expungement, the court shall order that the prior conviction be expunged.
“If the court issues an order to expunge, all court records relating to arrest, detention, incarceration, information, trial, adjudication or conviction shall be destroyed within 30 days. Criminal history can impact you for your life, it’s time we help these people clean up their records so that they can move on as long as they can demonstrate that they are rehabilitated then their records should be reviewed and cleared,” added San Nicolas. (PR)