A second chance after doing something stupid

By: 
Dwight Harriman
Yellowstone Newspapers

At some point, everyone does something really stupid in their life.
If you haven’t, you will.
Unfortunately, some of those stupid things become misdemeanor legal matters. And those matters can follow folks the rest of their lives, dogging their steps and preventing them from realizing opportunities long after they have paid their debt to society.
A new bill passed by the Montana Legislature in the last session and set to go into effect next month offers hope for those who stumble. It provides for the complete expungement of criminal records for misdemeanor offenses in certain defined cases.
The bill’s main sponsor was Rep. Zach Brown, D-Bozeman, and it was co-sponsored by Rep. Dale Mortenson-R-Billings and Park County’s own Sen. Nels Swandal, R-Wilsall. 
The measure carries added weight with the involvement of Swandal, who, as a former Park County District Court judge, knows a thing or two about crime and punishment and their effects on people’s futures.
According to the bill, in broad terms, people with misdemeanor convictions qualify to have their record expunged if:
• They have completed the terms of their sentence.
• Unless public safety demands otherwise, they have not been convicted of any other offense for five years, or they are applying to serve in the military.
Expungement “may not be presumed” for assault, partner or family member assault, stalking, protective order violations and driving under the influence crimes, the bill says. The courts must take certain factors into account in considering expungement of these misdemeanors.
Also the expungement can be done only once during a lifetime.
Montana should be proud of this law. Everyone should have a second chance for the scope of the crimes it covers. It is senseless to have one misdemeanor mistake define the rest of someone’s life. 
This law is not radical — it is not opening the door for people convicted of extremely serious or violent crimes or who are a danger to the public to slip unnoticed back into society. Rather it is a common-sense way for the law to be used not just for punishment but also for rehabilitation.
A fresh start for doing something really stupid.

Upcoming Events

Tuesday, July 23, 2019
Tuesdays, Noon, Beartooth Grill, 305 1st Ave. S.
Tuesday, July 23, 2019
Fourth Tuesdays, 7 p.m., Eagles Hall, 313 W. Main, 628-4503
Wednesday, July 24, 2019
10 a.m., Laurel Public Library, 720 West Third Street, Laurel, 628-4961
Wednesday, July 24, 2019
Every Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., check www.laurelexchangeclub.org for more info. Find them on Facebook www.facebook.com/laurelexchangeclub . Email them to find out meeting time and to join: clubinfo@laurelexchangeclub.org The club will have a meeting or volunteer activity. Meeting location is Sid's East Side Bar & Grill on first and third Wednesdays of each month. Members and guests eat free.  Volunteer activity on the second Wednesday of each month. Check their facebook page for updates.  Every fourth Wednesday is for a club social activity. 
Tuesday, July 30, 2019
Tuesdays, Noon, Beartooth Grill, 305 1st Ave. S.
Wednesday, July 31, 2019
10 a.m., Laurel Public Library, 720 West Third Street, Laurel, 628-4961

Poll

What is your favorite thing about summer?

The Laurel Outlook

 

Click Here to Check Out Our Latest Ads

We use Google cookies to determine our demographic of visitors to our site. You can opt out here.

We also use Twitter Analytics to track clicks from our twitter feed. 

You can find all the City Council documents that we have received here.