2022 Regular Session
To: Judiciary, Division B; Accountability, Efficiency, Transparency
By: Senator(s) England
AN ACT TO CREATE A PUBLIC REGISTRY OF OFFENDERS WHOSE CRIMES INVOLVED THE EMBEZZLEMENT OR MISAPPROPRIATION OF PUBLIC FUNDS; TO DEFINE TERMS; TO DIRECT THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY TO CREATE A REGISTRY OF OFFENDERS; TO REQUIRE RESPONSIBLE AGENCIES TO FORWARD CERTAIN INFORMATION TO THE DEPARTMENT; TO REQUIRE OFFENDERS TO REPORT TO THE DEPARTMENT WITHIN A PRESCRIBED TIMEFRAME; TO AUTHORIZE THE DEPARTMENT TO PROMULGATE RULES FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE ACT; TO AMEND SECTION 25-1-113, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROHIBIT LOCAL GOVERNMENTS FROM HIRING PERSONS ON THE REGISTRY FOR CERTAIN POSITIONS; AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 99-19-71, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO CLARIFY THE EFFECT OF EXPUNGEMENT PROCEDURES IN RELATION TO QUALIFIED ELECTORS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. For purposes of Sections 1 through 6 of this act, unless the context requires otherwise, the following terms shall have the meanings ascribed herein:
(a) "Conviction" means a judgment entered by a Mississippi court upon a plea of guilty, a plea of nolo contendere, or a finding of guilt by a jury or the court, notwithstanding any pending appeal or habeas corpus proceeding arising from the judgment. "Conviction" includes a disposition of pretrial diversion or nonadjudication under Section 99-15-26.
(b) "Department" means the Department of Public Safety.
(c) "Offender" means a person convicted of a registrable offense.
(d) "Registrable offense" means a crime chargeable under Sections 97-7-10, 97-11-25 through 97-11-31, 97-15-3, 97-15-5, 97-11-11, 97-11-13, 97-11-53, 97-13-1, 97-13-3, or any crime that involves the embezzlement or misappropriation of public funds as determined by the circuit court in its sentencing order upon conviction.
(e) "Registrant" means a person who is registered in compliance with this act.
SECTION 2. (1) The department shall post a publicly accessible registry online of all offenders by July 1, 2023.
(2) (a) The list must include the offender's full legal name, any aliases by which the offender is or has been known, including any online or internet identifiers and the offender's date of birth.
(b) The list shall not include the offender's social security number, driver's license number, any other state or federal identification number, physical address or telephone numbers.
(3) (a) If the offender is not convicted of another registrable offense while listed and if all fines, penalties and restitution have been paid, the department shall remove the offender's information from the list after either five (5) years from the date of the offender's conviction or five (5) years from the date of an offender's release from physical incarceration, whichever is later.
(b) Notwithstanding paragraph (a) of this subsection, a person who has served any sentence imposed and paid all fines, penalties and any restitution ordered may petition the department to be removed from the list after the satisfaction of the conditions of this paragraph (b). Upon receipt and confirmation of a true and correct petition, the department shall remove the offender from the registry.
SECTION 3. (1) The department shall maintain the registry on the internet, which shall contain a disclaimer informing the public that:
(a) The information contained on the website is obtained from public records, and the department does not guarantee the website's accuracy or completeness;
(b) The list only includes persons convicted in Mississippi state courts of a limited list of crimes. Persons who are convicted in any federal court, or who are convicted of a crime other than a registrable offense will not appear on the registry.
(2) The department and any individual or entity acting at the request or upon the direction of the department are immune from civil liability for damages arising from reporting information under this act and will be presumed to have acted in good faith in performing its duties under this act.
SECTION 4. Upon the entry of the order sentencing the offender to probation or parole or upon the date of release of the offender from the physical custody of the responsible agency, the responsible agency shall forward the department a copy of the conviction, sentencing order, name, sex and date of birth of the offender convicted of a registrable offense under this act.
SECTION 5. An offender required to register on the basis of a conviction entered shall register with the responsible agency within thirty (30) business days of the date of judgment unless the offender is immediately confined or committed, in which case the offender shall register before release in accordance with the procedures established by the department. The responsible agency shall immediately forward the registration information to the department.
SECTION 6. The department shall promulgate rules in accordance with the Mississippi Administrative Procedures Law, Title 25, Chapter 43, Mississippi Code of 1972, to effectuate the purposes of this act.
SECTION 7. Section 25-1-113, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
25-1-113. (1) From and after July 1, 2013, the state and any county, municipality or any other political subdivision shall not employ a person who has been convicted or pled guilty in any court of this state, another state, or in federal court of any felony in which public funds were unlawfully taken, obtained or misappropriated in the abuse or misuse of the person's office or employment or money coming into the person's hands by virtue of the person's office or employment.
(2) From and after July 1, 2014, the state and any county, municipality or any other political subdivision shall not employ or continue to employ a person who has been convicted or pled guilty in any court of this state, another state, or in federal court of any felony in which public funds were unlawfully taken, obtained or misappropriated in the abuse or misuse of the person's office or employment or money coming into the person's hands by virtue of the person's office or employment.
(3) From and after July 1, 2023, the state and any county, municipality or any other political subdivision shall not hire any person who appears on the registry created in Sections 1 through 6 of this act for any position in accounting, or in a treasury or registrar office, or in any office where monies are collected or received directly from rate or fee payers.
SECTION 8. Section 99-19-71, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
99-19-71. (1) Any person who has been convicted of a misdemeanor that is not a traffic violation, and who is a first offender, may petition the justice, county, circuit or municipal court in which the conviction was had for an order to expunge any such conviction from all public records.
(2) (a) Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, a person who has been convicted of a felony and who has paid all criminal fines and costs of court imposed in the sentence of conviction may petition the court in which the conviction was had for an order to expunge one (1) conviction from all public records five (5) years after the successful completion of all terms and conditions of the sentence for the conviction upon a hearing as determined in the discretion of the court; however, a person is not eligible to expunge a felony classified as:
(i) A crime of violence as provided in Section 97-3-2;
(ii) Arson, first degree as provided in Sections 97-17-1 and 97-17-3;
(iii) Trafficking in controlled substances as provided in Section 41-29-139;
(iv) A third, fourth or subsequent offense DUI as provided in Section 63-11-30(2)(c) and (2)(d);
(v) Felon in possession of a firearm as provided in Section 97-37-5;
(vi) Failure to register as a sex offender as provided in Section 45-33-33;
(vii) Voyeurism as provided in Section 97-29-61;
(viii) Witness intimidation as provided in Section 97-9-113;
(ix) Abuse, neglect or exploitation of a vulnerable person as provided in Section 43-47-19; or
(x) Embezzlement as provided in Sections 97-11-25 and 97-23-19.
A person is eligible for only one (1) felony expunction under this paragraph. For the purposes of this section, the terms "one (1) conviction" and "one (1) felony expunction" mean and include all convictions that arose from a common nucleus of operative facts as determined in the discretion of the court.
(b) The petitioner shall give ten (10) days' written notice to the district attorney before any hearing on the petition. In all cases, the court wherein the petition is filed may grant the petition if the court determines, on the record or in writing, that the applicant is rehabilitated from the offense which is the subject of the petition. In those cases where the court denies the petition, the findings of the court in this respect shall be identified specifically and not generally.
(3) Upon entering an order of expunction under this section, a nonpublic record thereof shall be retained by the Mississippi Criminal Information Center solely for the purpose of determining whether, in subsequent proceedings, the person is a first offender. The order of expunction shall not preclude a district attorney's office from retaining a nonpublic record thereof for law enforcement purposes only. The existence of an order of expunction shall not preclude an employer from asking a prospective employee if the employee has had an order of expunction entered on his behalf. The effect of the expunction order shall be to restore the person, in the contemplation of the law ,including those law regulating qualified electors, to the status he occupied before any arrest or indictment for which convicted. No person as to whom an expunction order has been entered shall be held thereafter under any provision of law to be guilty of perjury or to have otherwise given a false statement by reason of his failure to recite or acknowledge such arrest, indictment or conviction in response to any inquiry made of him for any purpose other than the purpose of determining, in any subsequent proceedings under this section, whether the person is a first offender. A person as to whom an order has been entered, upon request, shall be required to advise the court, in camera, of the previous conviction and expunction in any legal proceeding wherein the person has been called as a prospective juror. The court shall thereafter and before the selection of the jury advise the attorneys representing the parties of the previous conviction and expunction.
(4) If a person has a disenfranchising conviction expunged under this section and has no other conviction that would otherwise disenfranchise the person, the county registrar shall enter the person's name into the Statewide Elections Management System if the person:
(a) Submits a voter registration application; and
(b) Provides proof of the expungement.
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5) Upon petition therefor, a justice,
county, circuit or municipal court shall expunge the record of any case in
which an arrest was made, the person arrested was released and the case was
dismissed or the charges were dropped or there was no disposition of such case,
or the person was found not guilty at trial.
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6) No public official is eligible for
expunction under this section for any conviction related to his official
SECTION 9. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2022.