Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Millions of criminal records may be sealed in Florida

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a public records bill that could possibly result in the sealing of millions of criminal history records.

Scott, in his letter announcing his decision to sign the bill (SB 118) asserted that criminal records will remain open to the public because of the way the bill was worded. He said the provision was dependent on another bill that did not pass so "this section of the bill will not take effect."

Open government advocates who called for a veto said Scott's interpretation is possible but that it's not clear-cut.

"It's surprising and disappointing," said Barbara Petersen, president of the First Amendment Foundation. "I think it's worthy of a veto."

The measure pushed by Sen. Greg Steube, a Bradenton Republican, dealt initially with creating a way for people to have their arrest mugshots removed from websites.

But the bill was changed so that records are sealed once the opportunity for appeals has expired. The bill requires the automatic sealing of arrest records or records of an "incident of alleged criminal activity" if a prosecutor or state attorney declines to file charges, all charges were dismissed before trial or the person charged was acquitted or found not guilty.

The legislation could require nearly 3 million criminal records to be sealed, according to an estimate from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

The First Amendment Foundation said the legislation could apply to high-profile cases such as those of Casey Anthony and George Zimmerman, both of whom were acquitted.

Attorney General Pam Bondi last month raised questions about the legislation, saying it's important in sex offender cases to know if someone has been charged previously.

Kylie Mason, a spokeswoman for Bondi's office, said Friday that "it is our understanding that arrest records involving violent offenders and sexual predators will remain public, and if that is the case, we are pleased."

Steube defended the bill in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times, saying that "people that went to trial or had a judgment of acquittal by a judge still have all of this on their record, and it's still hard for them to get a job. These people want to be contributors to society, and we're not giving them the opportunity to do it."

Millions of criminal records may be sealed in Florida 06/16/17 [Last modified: Friday, June 16, 2017 8:23pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Judge throws out $458,000 condo sale, says Clearwater attorney tricked bidders

    Real Estate

    CLEARWATER — Pinellas County Circuit Judge Jack St. Arnold on Monday threw out the $458,100 sale of a gulf-front condo because of what he called an "unscrupulous" and "conniving" scheme to trick bidders at a foreclosure auction.

    John Houde, left, whose Orlando copany was the high  bidder June 8 at the foreclosure auction of a Redington Beach condo, looks in the direction of Clearwater lawyer and real estate investor Roy C. Skelton, foreground,  during a hearing Monday before Pinellas County Circuit Judge Jack St. Arnold.  [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times ]
  2. Vision Zero plan to make Hillsborough roads safer to be unveiled

    Transportation

    TAMPA — Vision Zero, the coalition trying to make Hillsborough County safer for bicyclists and pedestrians, is set to unveil its action plan on Tuesday morning.

    Members of the Vision Zero workshop cross Hillsborough Avenue and Kelly Road during a on-street audit of Town 'N Country roads in January. [JAMES BORCHUCK  |   Times]
  3. Pasco EDC names business incubator head in Dade City, will open second site

    Business

    Pasco County economic development officials are busy reigniting their business start-up resources following the departure earlier this year of Krista Covey, who ran the Pasco Economic Development Council's SMARTStart business incubator in Dade City.

    Andrew Romaner was promoted this summer to serve as program director of the Dade City SMARTStart Entrepreneur Center, a start-up incubator service of the Pasco Economic Development Council. He succeeds Krista Covey, who relocated to Texas for another startup position. [Courtesy of Pasco EDC]
  4. What you need to know for Tuesday, Aug. 22

    News

    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    Clearwater lawyer and real estate investor Roy C. Skelton, center, attends a hearing on Monday Circuit Court Judge Jack St. Arnold at the Pinellas County Courthouse in Clearwater. The hearing was requested by attorneys representing John Houde, left, who filed a motion to invalidate the sale of a $458,000 Redington Beach condo, a deal orchestrated by Skelton, who stands accused of deliberately misleading bidders in a the June 8 foreclosure auction. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times]
  5. Sarasota GOP names Dick Cheney 'Statesman of the Year'

    Blogs

    Former Vice President Dick Cheney will be honored as "Statesman of Year" by the Sarasota GOP, a title that twice went to Donald Trump.

    Dick and Liz Cheney