Committee to begin hearing applications for expungement of criminal records soon

Minister of Legal Affairs Steadroy Benjamin
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By Latrishka Thomas

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In about two weeks, some convicts who have already fulfilled their sentences could have their slates wiped clean.

Earlier this year, Parliament passed amendments to the Criminal Records Rehabilitation of Offenders Bill, to allow for criminal records to be expunged.

Although the Bill had been passed in Antigua and Barbuda since 2013, it had never been enforced.

The law now provides for a committee to hear applications from offenders, and Minister of Legal Affairs Steadroy Benjamin told Observer that this should begin shortly.

“The law was recently changed, and now we have amended the committee in accordance with amendments to the Act. So, within a fortnight, the committee will function and consider the newest applications which have in fact been made with respect to the expungement of records for persons who have served their sentence,” Benjamin stated.

Benjamin explained that certain conditions apply, as set out in the legislation.

“The act sets out the procedure to be followed, how the application is made and once they make the application to the necessary authority then that application will be placed before the committee for its consideration.

“Once a person has served their sentence, according to the sentence and the number of years attached to the offense, once those have expired then the committee will examine the person’s behaviour, will determine whether the person has been rehabilitated and will determine whether an expungement should be granted,” he explained.

If a person successfully has their record cleared, they will “be deemed to be a person who has never been charged with, prosecuted for, convicted of, or sentenced for, the offence to which that conviction relates”, and can therefore tell potential landlords, employers, licensing agencies and others that.

The application must be made to the committee which will consist  of an attorney-at-law with at least 10 years of experience, or who has held judicial office as a Judge or Magistrate, the Commissioner of Police or his nominee who may act in his absence, the Labour Commissioner or his nominee who may act in his absence, the Chief Welfare Officer or his nominee who may act in his absence and the Chief Probation Officer or his nominee who may act in his absence.

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