Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Idaho: Scarlet Letter State

First, Idaho still has a fornication law on the books and yes it is used (albeit not often).  As in, once within the last year I had a client charged with fornication.

But the topic here is criminal records.  You see, in Idaho, we have two.  There's your criminal record kept by the executive by law.  This record has finger prints to back it up and make sure you're the one it is talking about.  It can be expunged only, and only if you get an acquittal.  Nothing else suffices, and that a determination made by our good friends at the Idaho State Police, so.. yeah.

Then there's the court record.  This functions exactly the same way except you don't need fingerprints and it is accessible to everyone on the internet, so you don't have to pay for it like you do with the criminal record. It cannot be expunged, only sealed, and that is according to Administrative Rule 32.  That rule in 2009 was construed (yes, construed) by the Supreme Court of Idaho to require a factual determination that a person has more interest in keeping an acquittal under wraps than society has in knowing about it.  No shit.

First, why in the fuck does the Supreme Court have to construe its own rule?  The Court appoints committees that pass these idiotic things, and then, when confronted by the perfectly logical and fair request to seal a case involving an acquittal it goes, "oh shit, wait though, I think you have to follow this rule."  



But hold up, they probably know this.  They're probably hiding behind this whole "rule" thing.  The reality is the Court is so far removed from the real world they don't understand what kind of an impact on people having even an acquitted criminal charge will have.

Or they're thinking- meh, a few more people my kids won't have to compete with when looking for work.

The reality is, a record has horrible consequences for life.  Even as stupid a misdemeanor as "frequenting" which just means you knowingly were in an area where drugs were being held can make it next to impossible to get all but the worst jobs.  It's a sure fire way to keep the poor in their place.  The police largely only use their powers to investigate what the poor are doing, once one of them slips up just slightly, he finds himself branded for life so he can never be anything but poor (except in a few rare cases that are later held up by the rich as reasons why they're not doing anything wrong by perpetuating this slave state).

Anyway, as you can probably tell, I had a kid with an acquittal get a request to seal turned down today.  Why?
It's probably just to save on the administrative expense.  That's the true horror of it.  Your liberty costs a $1.45.

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