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Automatic Expunge of Criminal Records in 5 Years

Posted October. 15, 2002 23:06,   


Criminal records on some people will be automatically expunged after the elapse of 5 years. In the future, if a person is charged, and later found not guilty or receive administrative rulings from the prosecution without formal indictment, the criminal records on them will be deleted in 5 years.

If a person is fined less than 30,000 won or detained up to 29 days, his criminal record on the court file will be deleted, even tough the related information is retained in the police database.

On October 15, 2002, the government passed the amendments to "Act for Expungement of Criminal Records" in a cabinet meeting. According to the revised act, the current police database will be divided into two sub-databases: the "database of the criminals," which retains the records of the people who receives punishments of fines or imprisonment; and the "database for suspects," which contains the records of those against whom the charge is dropped or punishment less severe than fines is imposed.

Accordingly, Ministry of Justice explains, out of the 113 million ex-cons as of September 30, 33% of them (i.e. 4.32 million) will watch their records expunged. Additionally, since the new code provides that the database of the suspects is no longer deemed as a kind of the criminal record, 350 thousand people will not be recorded as ex-con every year.

Moreover, under the new law, the background checking will get tougher to do. In the future, it will be allowed only for the purposes of the criminal investigation, the trial and the administration of a punishment strictly within the scope provided by the relevant laws and/or executive orders.

The amended act will also tighten up the level of the punishment imposed on a person who reveals, without authority, the criminal or investigative record on others. Thus, the person, if convicted, will be fined up to 30 million won or sentenced up to three years in prison. Before the amendments are made, an individual charged for the same would receive fines up to 7 million won or two-year imprisonment.

Young-Sik Kim spear@donga.com