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Recent Supreme Court Decision Allows Expungements in Cases Where There Are Out-of-State Convictions


Three men applied for expungements of their criminal record in Delaware and were denied by the court. They appealed the ruling, and in a recent decision, the Delaware Supreme Court has ruled that they can have their Delaware criminal records expunged despite having convictions in another state. In a 3-2 decision, the Delaware Supreme Court ruled that the Superior Court erred when it denied three men the right to expunge their records.

The case involved a 2019 law that expanded the eligibility of individuals to receive criminal expungements in Delaware. Two key provisions of the law required that the law applied to “all criminal cases brought and convictions entered in a court in this state,” and that an individual was only eligible for expungement if they had “no prior or subsequent convictions” except for traffic offenses, simple possession of marijuana, and underage possession of alcohol.

Originally, the Superior Court ruled that out-of-state convictions counted against an individual’s record, and someone with an out-of-state conviction was not eligible for an expungement in Delaware. The Supreme Court ruling overturned this decision ruling that out-of-state convictions did not count against an individual’s record when applying for an expungement.

The Clean Slate Act 

The Clean Slate Act is a bill that was introduced in 2021 that allows for the automatic expungement of some criminal records. It is set to go into effect in August of 2024. Eligible individuals will no longer have to go through an expensive and burdensome process of applying to the courts to have their records expunged. Some (but not all) convictions that are eligible for expunction will be expunged automatically. The new Clean Slate law seeks to eliminate the gap between eligible Delaware residents and true access to criminal expungement by automating the expungement process and ensuring that individuals have access to economic opportunities that could be denied to them because of a criminal record.

Senate Bill 112 expanded the number of records that were eligible for mandatory criminal expungement. The bill, which became effective on January 1, 2022, allows for expungements for certain low-level felony convictions. Prior to the passage of the law, individuals seeking expungement had to apply through a costly and complicated court-based expungement process. The law included criminal convictions such as:

  • Drug Possession (after 5 years have passed)
  • Miscellaneous drug crimes
  • Unlawful Dealing in a Counterfeit or Purported Controlled Substance
  • Maintaining a Drug Property
  • Possession of Burglar’s Tools or Instruments Facilitating Theft
  • Forgery in the Second Degree
  • Unlawful Use of a Payment Card

The Clean Slate Act will automate the process of expunging criminal records that are eligible for expunction.

Talk to a Wilmington, DE Criminal Defense Attorney Today 

Michael W. Modica represents the interests of those seeking criminal expungements in the state of Delaware. Call our Wilmington criminal defense lawyers today to schedule an appointment, and we can begin discussing your case right away.



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