New Zealand Law Society - Passage of criminal record expungement bill recommended

Passage of criminal record expungement bill recommended

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Parliament's Justice Committee has released a report on the Criminal Records (Expungement of Convictions for Historical Homosexual Offences) Bill with a recommendation that it be passed with amendments.

The bill would allow a person convicted of a homosexual offence, or their representative, to apply to have the conviction expunged.

A successful application for expungement would entitle the convicted person to declare that they have no such conviction under New Zealand law, and the conviction would no longer appear on a criminal history check.

The committee says while several submitters considered that the men convicted should receive compensation, this goes beyond the purpose of the bill, which is to prevent further negative effects from the stigma of a conviction.

Recommended changes include amending the definition of "criminal record' to replace "official record" with "public record", to align the definition with section 4 of the Public Records Act 2005.

It also recommends inserting a new clause 13A, which would make it an offence to require or request an individual to disregard the effect of expungement under the bill.

The committee says it considered whether an expunged conviction would have to be disclosed when travelling to overseas jurisdictions.

"We were advised that the requirement for disclosure to overseas jurisdictions would depend on the wording of the request. For example, if an official or a convicted person was asked to provide a criminal history record, the expunged conviction would not be included in that record."

The bill was referred to the Justice and Electoral Committee on 6 July 2017 and reinstated with the Justice Committee on 8 November 2017. Submissions closed on 18 August 2017 and the committee received 37 written submissions and heard from 10 submitters.

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