Police to Expunge Criminal Investigation Material on Over 300,000 Israelis

Police Chief Roni Alshich. (Avshalom Sasoni/Flash90)

In honor of the state’s 70th anniversary, police will expunge the records of 309,000 Israelis against whom criminal investigations were opened, but in which criminal charges were never filed, a spokesperson for the Israel Police said Tuesday. The process will take place automatically, without the individual involved required to request that the record be expunged. Among the cases to be expunged will be those of 39,000 juvenile suspects.

The “Second Chance” program, as police have titled it, applies to Israelis who have been investigated and found to be likely suspects in a criminal act – but against whom police decided not to file charges. Although they are not criminals, Israelis in this group have a police record, and are listed as suspects in the cases in which they were involved. In general, such records can be expunged only by a pardon from the President.

Israelis who have been the subject of investigations will be able to check if their cases have been expunged. Police said that the project would be finished by June 1st, at which time citizens will be able to check if they qualified for the program. The automatic closure will apply to Israelis who have never been convicted of a crime, or those who are subjects of open investigations. Also excepted in the program will be cases relating to murder or manslaughter, molestation, extreme violence, and security offenses.

While the data on who was investigated in a criminal case is generally confidential, the listing of individuals as potential suspects affects their ability to get certain jobs, mostly in government or security-sensitive industries. Israelis have a right to request that these cases be expunged, but the erasure will now be done at the behest of police, not the individual citizen, police said in their announcement of the program.

“Even ‘normative’ citizens violate the law once in awhile, but that does not give us the right to tag them as ‘criminals,’” Police Chief Roni Alshich said Tuesday. “It is in society’s interest to help everyone return to their status as productive and accepted members of society. We found it appropriate to institute this program as we celebrate the state’s 70th anniversary. We want to help citizens open up a new, clean page.”

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