|Posted:||February 18, 2015 08:43 AM|
|From:||Representative Angel Cruz|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||Expungement of mistaken identity arrest records|
|In the near future, I will introduce legislation that would require the expungement of arrest records of individuals who were arrested due to a case of mistaken identity.
Last year, Charles Belk made national headlines after police arrested and accused him of being an accessory to the armed robbery of a California bank as he was walking from a restaurant to his vehicle. Before he could process the situation, Belk was surrounded by police cars, handcuffed, searched for weapons, and transported to Police Headquarters where he was photographed, finger printed, and had his bail set at $100,000.
Immediately following the armed robbery at the Citibank, witnesses to the robbery described a man who had been working with the apprehended female robber by distracting bank employees while the robbery was carried out. Within minutes, Belk, who had been walking less than a block away from the robbery, was detained. An eye witness positively identified him in a lineup, resulting in his arrest. A follow-up investigation by detectives later determined that Belk was not involved in the robbery. He was released from custody without charges and an apology was issued by the Police Department.
As a result of this incident, Belk has become an advocate for the wrongfully arrested. He started the “#AutoErase Campaign,” a nationwide effort to inform the general public that if you are wrongfully arrested and released, you will still have an arrest record unless you make an effort to have it expunged. Unfortunately, the burden of petitioning for expungement often falls on the person who was wrongfully accused. This process can take several months to resolve and can cost thousands of dollars due to the need for a private attorney’s assistance.
My proposal would add Pennsylvania to a list of thirteen states that are in the process of introducing legislation that would rectify this grave injustice to law abiding citizens. Under my bill, a law enforcement agency that arrests an individual as a result of mistaken identity would be required to petition the court for the expungement of that individual’s related criminal history record, at no cost to the individual. Within 90 days, the court would review the petition and order the expungement of all records relating to the arrest.
This bill would ensure that no innocent citizen of this Commonwealth suffers from a damaged reputation due to an arrest record as a result of mistaken identity. Please join me by co-sponsoring this legislation. Thank you in advance for your consideration.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact my Harrisburg office at 717-705-1925
Introduced as HB722