HARTFORD — Those arrested for misdemeanor possession of marijuana would have their records erased after five years, under legislation that passed overwhelming in the Judiciary Committee on Monday.
In other cases, defendants whose charges are dropped prior to arraignment, or released when police admit to false arrest because of mistaken identity, would automatically have their records erased.
“We have to make sure that these things get erased,” said Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield, ranking member of the committee.
The bill, which was combined with another piece of legislation that would allow for those accused of nonviolent misdemeanors to avoid bail requirements, next heads to the Senate.
Rep. Tom O’Dea, R-New Canaan, said he was concerned that erasing records could take away a town’s ability to defend itself in court. Sen. Eric T. Coleman, D-Bloomfield, co-chairman of the committee, said that while the records would not be disclosed to the public, they still would be retained.
“I just don’t see this working,” said Rep. Richard A. Smith, R-New Fairfield. “Let the onus be on the person convicted, to come back after five years and say ‘my record is clean, please erase it.’ ”
Rep. Stephen G. Harding, Jr., R-Brookfield, said he was worried about defendants released without posting bail failing to appear later in court.
“The underlying crime that an individual is charged with is not the most important factor involved in setting bail,” Harding said. “I fear this may distort that and take away some discretion from judges.”
Harding, O’Dea and Smith voted against the legislation.