I support, and will follow the progress of, Senate File 148. Senate File 148, which is pending before the Iowa State Legislature, would expunge criminal charges that were dismissed or where the defendant was acquitted at trial. The bill only applies to dismissals or acquittals of criminal charges for alleged offenses committed on or after July 1, 2013.
This pending legislation is much needed. At present, while many deferred judgments and convictions for PAULA and Public Intoxication can be expunged, dismissals and acquittals cannot be expunged. This leaves the unfair scenario where an innocent defendant, who was acquitted at trial or had their charge(s) dismissed, must be burdened by the public’s knowledge of, and access to, their court file. On the other hand, a defendant who is guilty and convicted of public intoxication or PAULA, or who is guilty of another offense and receives a deferred judgment, can get their case expunged and avoid some of the legal baggage that an innocent defendant whose case was dismissed or who was acquitted must carry.
Hopefully this bill will rectify this unjust scenario. I encourage readers of this blog to contact their state legislator and voice their support for Senate File 148.