Public Act No. 21-32, known as the Clean Slate Law, became effective in Connecticut
May 16, 2023
Clean Slate Law Memo
On January 1, 2023, Public Act No. 21-32, known as the Clean Slate Law, became effective in Connecticut. While most of the headlines and stories related to the Clean Slate Law have focused on the erasure of certain criminal records, the law has far-reaching implications and new prohibitions for the state’s private employers and businesses.
As the nickname suggests, the Clean Slate Law does and will erase a significant number of criminal records in Connecticut. The law erases “any police or court record and record of the state’s prosecuting attorney,” related to classified or unclassified misdemeanor offenses seven years from the date of conviction, along with class D and E felonies, and unclassified felonies carrying a term of imprisonment of not more than five years, 10 years after conviction.
An illustrative list of class D felonies include burglary in the third degree, larceny in the third degree (theft of property worth more than $2,000); and robbery in the third degree. A non-illustrative list of class D felonies from the more bizarre recesses of the penal code include “cheating,” which is when a person “knowingly uses an altered or counterfeit chip, token, tile, pull tab…loads or tampers with any cards or dice” in the course of playing any lawful gambling game; “substitution of children,” which is when someone having been entrusted with a child less than one year old, substitutes a different child for the one they were entrusted with; and “impersonation of a police officer,” which is self-explanatory.
There are a number of exceptions to the erasure provisions. Certain records , including but not limited to “family violence crimes,” along with violent and nonviolent sexual offenses, will not be erased in the prescribed period referenced above. A “family violence crime” is any crime from the penal code which contains “as an element thereof an act of family violence to a family or household member.” Another notable exception is that law does not require the Department of Motor Vehicles to erase “criminal history record information on an operator’s driving record.”
In addition to erasing a slew of criminal records, the law also protects individuals from being discriminated against on the basis of an erased record. For example, the law prohibits discrimination based on an erased criminal record with regard to selling, buying or renting an apartment or home. In the employment context, employers cannot discriminate in the hiring, firing, or retention of an employee or potential employee on the basis of erased criminal records. Individuals who feel they have been discriminated against in violation of these laws may file a complaint with the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities pursuant to C.G.S. § 46a-82, or file suit in Superior Court seeking declaratory or injunctive relief, damages, or any other remedy available under law.
Finally, the law includes a number of miscellaneous provisions which include new protections for those whose criminal records have been erased. The state can no longer consider erased records for the administration of state funds. Individuals cannot be denied public accommodations on the basis of erased records. The state system of higher education cannot discriminate on the basis of erased records. Creditors cannot discriminate in any credit transaction on the basis of erased records. Auto insurers cannot cancel or opt to not renew a policy on the basis of erased records. Life insurance companies cannot discriminate with regard to premiums charged on the basis of erased records. These prohibitions make it important to consult with legal counsel regarding any action taken on the basis of an erased criminal record.
A safe best practice is to consider any public or private act which discriminates on the basis of an erased criminal record to be discriminatory and therefore unlawful.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is not intended to be legal advice and should not be acted upon as such.
Andrew O’Sullivan is an associate at the firm’s Hartford office where he practices primarily in the areas of commercial litigation and creditors’ rights. He can be reached at email@example.com or (860) 548-2671.