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About Clean Slate Delaware
America’s decades-old culture of tough-on-crime policies has created an unprecedented crisis in our legal system: A staggering number of Americans find themselves locked in a paper prison, with no end to their sentence, even after they’ve served their time. Clean Slate Delaware aims to expand access to second chances through legislation, advocacy, and public education efforts that will expand expungement eligibility and help more eligible records access expungement.
Up to 400,000 people who have a record in Delaware live with limited access to jobs, housing, education, starting a business, or participating fully in social and civic community life. 290,000 of those people are eligible for mandatory expungement, but eligibility for expungement doesn't always mean access to expungement.
Following the passage of Clean Slate legislation in 2021, the Clean Slate Delaware campaign works to expand access to second chances by ensuring that people living with a Delaware record are aware of eligibility requirements, updated laws, and how they can start the process of clearing eligible records.
Upcoming Expungement Clinics
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Mandatory Expungement Eligibility Guide
Thanks to reforms in recent years, including the passage of SB 37 in 2019 and SB 112 in 2021, the number of records that are eligible for mandatory expungement has grown significantly. Learn more about what cases are eligible for mandatory expungement and how to start the process.
Angela’s teen years were clouded by difficulties that landed her a record. For her, access to record clearance would mean having a Clean Slate and a second chance at jobs, education, housing, credit, and more.
Receiving an expungement would give Angela a real second chance at participating authentically in her community. Angela’s story is one of many.
More than a decade after Gina reentered society, her record still holds her back from finding jobs, housing, and social services opportunities.
Gina has long since moved past old chapters in her life, but Delaware hasn’t caught up yet. A #CleanSlate and a second chance would give her the freedom she needs to fully live her life and participate in her community. Expanding access to expungement will grant second chances to hundreds of thousands of Delawareans like Gina.
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In 2018, the General Assembly passed a major juvenile expungement bill, giving Delaware Family Court the option to immediately expunge a felony arrest record if a child is found not delinquent or the charge is dismissed, eliminating the need for a separate application and proceeding.
In 2019, the General Assembly passed another important expungement bill expanding access to second chances for adult Delawareans by creating adult expungement opportunities for most misdemeanors and felonies after a 3-7 year waiting period (depending on the underlying crime) without another conviction.
We expanded access to more second chances in 2021 with the passage of two Clean Slate bills. SB 111 will automate the mandatory expungement process starting in 2024, in order to make record clearance more accessible for people seeking a second chance. SB 112 expanded the list of cases that are eligible for mandatory expungement.
Last year, we added to our list of wins with the passage of HB 244 (fines & fees reform) When Delawareans face court-ordered fines and fees, many are unable to pay the amount they’ve been assigned. This can begin a “debt spiral,” leading from fines and fees to incarceration to more court-ordered debts. HB 244 elimated a number of fines and fees, and prohibits the Division of Motor Vehicles from suspending driver’s licenses as a penalty for nonpayment of a fine, fee, costs, assessment, or restitution.
Recent changes to expungement laws in Delaware
During the 2022 legislative session, the Delaware General Assembly passed HB 447. House Bill 447 requires that cases or charges that are more than 7 years old be treated as "resolved in favor of" a child or adult if there is no disposition available for the case and no outstanding warrants. This clarification will:
- Prevent errors in record-keeping in the criminal justice system from stopping an otherwise qualified petitioner from obtaining an expungement that may otherwise be available;
- Require old cases for which no outcome is listed to be removed from a person's record if they are more than 7 years old; and
- Allow an individual with multiple violations or misdemeanors in different cases that would be eligible for a mandatory expungement if they had occurred in a single case, and the individual has no other convictions on their record, to apply directly for a discretionary expungement after 5 years have passed from the most recent conviction.
- The court would then consider the application under its usual “interest of justice” rubric in determining whether to grant the expungement.
- This saves applications to the pardon board for multiple minor misdemeanors and increases parity between applicants with similar records.