Does the waiting period for expungement eligibility in Utah start when the case is closed or when State Debt Collections files a satisfaction of judgment with the court?
Utah Code 77-40-105 governs the preliminary requirements for eligibility for expungement of convictions. Payment in full of any restitution or fines (including interest) must be made in order to be eligible for expungement. But payment is not what sets the clock ticking on other eligibility requirements.
Waiting periods for expungement eligibility range from three years to ten years, depending on the level of the offense and the type of offense involved. These waiting periods begin to run following the last of the following events: the last date of incarceration, probation, or parole.
Expungement Eligibility Examples
Following are a few examples of when the clock starts to run for expungement eligibility. These include completion of probation, completion of parole, release from prison, release from jail, and formal closing of the case by the court.
Example 1 – Successful Completion of Probation
“John” is convicted of a third-degree felony for distribution of a controlled substance. The judge sentences him to serve 30 days jail as a condition of probation. John serves the jail time, and then completes his probation successfully after 24 months. The case is then closed.
In this scenario, last relevant date is the date of probation completion. That date marks the beginning point for the seven-year waiting period for expungement eligibility on a felony conviction. Note, however, that because probation was completed “successfully” John is eligible to request that the court reduce the level (“402 reduction”) of his conviction to a class A misdemeanor. This would then reduce the waiting period from seven years to only five years.
Example 2 – Completing Parole
“Mary” is convicted of a second-degree felony theft charge. The judge places her on probation with under the supervision of AP&P with no jail time required as a condition of probation. Unfortunately, Mary does not take probation seriously and is soon brought back to court for an order to show cause. The judge revokes Mary’s probation and orders that she serve the prison sentence previously suspended. Mary spends 18 months in prison, followed by 9 months on parole. The parole board then closes her case.
In this case, the last relevant event is Mary’s completion of parole. Because Mary did not complete probation successfully, she is not eligible for a 402 reduction even though she did well on parole. The end of parole marks the beginning of her seven-year waiting period for expungement eligibility.
Example 3 – Release from Prison
“Mark” is convicted on a third-degree felony credit card fraud charge. The court suspends a 0-5 year prison term and places Mark on probation. After repeated probation violations, the court revokes probation and sends him to prison. The parole board determines that Mark can have the opportunity of parole after he has served 14 months in prison. Mark, however, ultimately decides that he doesn’t want to do parole but instead asks that he be allowed to expire his sentence in prison. The parole board adjusts his prison term to 19 months and releases him at the end of that time period with no parole.
Under these circumstances, Mark’s release from prison is last relevant event. His seven-year wait for eligibility starts on the day he is released from prison.
Example 4 – Release from Jail
“Jane” is convicted of a class B misdemeanor shoplifting charge. Jane was also charged the previous year in the same court with another shoplifting charge, and the judge remembers her. At sentencing, the judge orders Jane to serve 60 days in jail to close the case.
Although the court considers the case “closed” on the date of sentencing, Jane still has time to serve in jail. The jail may release her before the full 60 days has run based on “good time” credit. But it is her final release date from incarceration that starts the clock ticking for expungement eligibility.
Example 5 – Case Closed
“Dave” is convicted of a class C misdemeanor intoxication charge. Because it is Dave’s first offense, and because Dave’s attorney does a great job at sentencing, the judge agrees to close the case with Dave’s same-day payment of a $200 fine.
Here, because no jail time and no probation period were imposed, the waiting period for expungement eligibility begins on the day the court closes the case. At the class C misdemeanor level, the three-year waiting period begins the same day that Dave went to court.
Payment of Fines and Restitution
To be eligible for expungement of any criminal conviction, full payment of restitution and fines (including interest) is a prerequisite. Costs (collection fees and substantial interest) can will be minimized if those amounts are paid before they are sent to debt collections. But the clock for any required waiting period starts to tick when the last relevant event occurs.
Expungement Attorneys in Utah
The expungement process is not always as straightforward as one might wish. Having the assistance of an attorney who knows the ins and outs of the system can be priceless.