4373 (a) states that the existence of the previous conviction is "prima facie" evidence that dissemination of information relating to the arrest to be expunged does not constitute a manifest injustice to the petitioner. Prima facie evidence is conclusive on the issue unless rebutted.
In my own practice, on several occasions, when the previous conviction was remote in time and/or considerably different in degree or nature, I have been able to convince the DOJ not to oppose the motion or the court of the "manifest injustice" over the State's objection. Within the past year I had a young lady turned down for a job with the Dept. of Corrections (I didn't think that they turned anyone down) on the basis of an arrest for Assault 3rd on her boyfriend. That charge was subsequently dismissed but because she had had an Under Age Consumption on her record 3 years earlier the DOJ opposed the motion. When I produced the letter from DOC stating that it was the assault arrest that kept her from being hired and pointed out that this was not a plea bargain where she pled to the alcohol charge in return for a dismissal of the assault, the DOJ withdrew its objection (but noted the previous conviction in its response to the court). The court granted the motion knowing that she had previously been convicted.
Another point that was not addressed in my previous entry, but that Mr. Sandy brought to my attention is that when a person is involuntarily committed to a mental hospital in Delaware, it is noted on that person's record and can be viewed by anyone with access to the criminal record. However, these records can also be expunged. Mr. Sandy writes:
I have twice been successful in having the "Mental Patient" notation removed (sealed) from the SBI record. In both cases SBI itself vehemently opposed and the DOJ took up their position. The cases, about 5 years apart, were nearly identical. Both involved young women applying for jobs that required a background check. As I recollect, they were both applying for teaching positions. At the time of their petitions both were in their mid twenties. In each case, when they were 15 or 16, they threatened (but did not attempt) suicide over breakups with boyfriends. In both cases, alarmed parents enlisted the aid of the State Police and 72 hour commitments were procured. Both girls were released before the 72 hours elapsed and neither ever had any other problem. Clearly, a background check would have been severely detrimental to their teaching careers. A reading of the statue clearly stated that "adult" commitments were to be reported. Despite the fact that the records should never have been made available to SBI the State opposed sealing the record. In both cases the court (Graves in one and Bradley in the other) granted the motion. I am surprised that some of the mental health advocates have not taken up the issue of the inclusion of this information in the SBI records.
Thank you Mr. Sandy for your insights.