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Every Employee Deserves a ‘Clean Slate’ in Connecticut

Today, Connecticut opened its first recreational marijuana retail shops and simultaneously began the process of expunging the records of approximately 44,000 individuals who have cannabis-related misdemeanors under the state’s ‘Clean Slate’ law.  The full implementation of Connecticut’s ‘Clean Slate’ law was scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2023; but it has hit some logistical snags. Nonetheless, at yesterday’s press conference, Connecticut’s Governor, Ned Lamont, publicly committed to its full implementation by year-end.Top of Form

What is the ‘Clean Slate’ law?

In short, the law requires the state to automatically erase records for various felonies and misdemeanors, while expanding the rights granted to job applicants with criminal histories.  The law aims at helping individuals with a criminal past obtain greater opportunities to reenter the workforce or find a new job without the obstacle of a prior conviction impeding the process.

The ‘Clean Slate’ law, which was signed by Lamont in 2021, automatically erases criminal records of individuals seven years after the date of their conviction for a misdemeanor or 10 years after the date of their conviction for certain class D, class E or unclassified felonies; provided that, the individual has not been convicted of another crime.

It is important to note, the automatic expungement does not apply to individuals who had convictions prior to January 1, 2000.  Those individuals will have to go through the extra step of petitioning the court to have their records erased.

The Governor was subject to much criticism in December when less than a month before the anticipated full implementation of the ‘Clean Slate’ law, he delayed its full rollout. He blamed the state’s outdated technology and computer systems, and unresolved legal and policy questions. As Lamont explained, “Implementation involves significant information technology upgrades to allow criminal justice agencies to send and receive data to determine who can have their offenses erased and to update record systems.”

Whether you are a fan of ‘Clean Slate’ or not, it is here, and Connecticut employers should know the meaning of the new law.  In essence, nothing changes for the employer, except they will not have access to certain criminal history that they previously could have seen and could have considered in certain circumstances. Employers will find out if ignorance is truly bliss as some of the crimes subject to expungement are quite significant.  For instance, in Connecticut Class E and D felonies carry penalties of up to three and five years in prison, respectively. Class D felonies include offenses such as non-lethal firearms offenses, computer crime to the third degree, criminal mischief, and a wide range of other offenses, including certain types of assault and other violent crimes.  Class E felonies include the use of ransomware to extort money and a number of less serious versions of Class D felonies.

This article offers a brief overview of Connecticut’s Clean Slate Law.  It is not intended as legal advice.  If you need help in complying with this new law or any other employment matters, Brody and Associates can help. Brody and Associates regularly advises management on complying with the latest local, state and federal employment laws.  If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at info@brodyandassociates.com or 203.454.0560.