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. Lightning takes defenseman Cal Foote with top pick in draft

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Former Avalanche defenseman Adam Foote said his son Cal lived in the locker room.

    Cal Foote, second from left, is welcomed to the Lightning by GM Steve Yzerman, far left.
  2. It's Rays' turn to pound Orioles pitching (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG - Ah, the fantastic four.

    The Rays smashed the reeling Orioles 15-5 on Friday, scoring a season-high in runs, to climb four games above .500 for the first time since July 1, 2015.

    Rays third baseman Evan Longoria scores on a triple by Logan Morrison during the first inning against the Orioles.
  3. Lightning picks defenseman Cal Foote

    Blogs

    Cal Foote is the son of former Avs defenseman Adam Foote.
  4. Kids today: They don't work summer jobs the way they used to

    Business

    WASHINGTON — It was at Oregon's Timberline Lodge, later known as a setting in the horror movie The Shining, where Patrick Doyle earned his first real paycheck.

    Teens Ben Testa, from left, Hannah Waring and Abby McDonough, and Wegmeyer Farms owner Tyler Wegmeyer walk the strawberry rows at the Hamilton, Va., farm in late May.
  5. Jeb Bush back in the hunt for the Marlins, now opposing Derek Jeter

    Blogs

    Associated Press:

    Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has switched sides in pursuit of the Miami Marlins, and he’s trying to beat out former teammate Derek Jeter.