Delaware - State of the Data Report
Delaware court records are publicly accessible. Corrections records are not. Criminal history records may be obtained, with limitations, for research purposes, subject to agency approval.

Recent Legislation

HB 102: Expungement

2019

This bill outlines eligibility conditions related to expungement of criminal records for victims of human trafficking. As such, this bill permits a person previously arrested or convicted of a crime, as a direct result of being a victim of human trafficking, to file for an expungement or motion to vacate the judgment.

Read the Bill:

https://legis.delaware.gov/BillDetail?LegislationId=47266

Sponsors

Representative - Kimberly Williams
Democrat, 19
Senator - Nicole Poore
Democrat, 12
Representative - Raymond Seigfried
Democrat, 7
Senator - Anthony Delcollo
Republican, 7
Senator - Stephanie Hansen
Democrat, 10
Senator - Bryant Richardson
Republican, 21
Representative - Paul Baumbach
Democrat, 23
Representative - Ruth Briggs King
Republican, 37
Representative - Debra Heffernan
Democrat, 6
Representative - Sean Lynn
Democrat, 31
Representative - Melissa Minor-Brown
Democrat, 17
Representative - Krista Griffith
Democrat, 12

SB 37: Expungement

2019

This bill amended Delaware Code related to expungement of adult arrest and criminal conviction records. As outlined in this bill, cases eligible for expungement include those that were terminated in favor of the accused by reason of a nolle prosequi, dismissal, acquittal or arrests for which no criminal charges were filed.

Read the Bill:

https://legis.delaware.gov/BillDetail?LegislationId=47355

Sponsors

Senator - Darius Brown
Democrat, SD-002
Senator - David McBride
Democrat, SD-013
Senator - Bryan Townsend
Democrat, SD-011
Senator - Anthony Delcollo
Republican, SD-007
Representative - Sean Lynn
Democrat, HD-031
Representative - Valerie Longhurst
Democrat, HD-015
Representative - Sherry Dorsey Walker
Democrat, SD-003
Representative - Franklin Cooke
Democrat, HD-016
Senator - Stephanie Hansen
Democrat, SD-010
Senator - Elizabeth Lockman
Democrat, SD-003
Senator - Charles Paradee
Democrat, SD-017
Senator - Nicole Poore
Democrat, SD-012
Senator - David Sokola
Democrat, SD-008
Senator - Laura Sturgeon
Democrat, SD-004
Senator - John Walsh
Democrat, SD-009
Representative - Paul Baumbach
Democrat, HD-023
Representative - Stephanie Bolden
Democrat, HD-002
Representative - Gerald Brady
Democrat, HD-004
Representative - Nnamdi Chukwuocha
Democrat, HD-001
Representative - Debra Heffernan
Democrat, HD-006
Representative - Earl Jaques
Democrat, HD-027
Representative - Kendra Johnson
Democrat, HD-005
Representative - John Kowalko
Democrat, HD-025
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Relevant criminal justice data laws

Delaware’s Freedom of Information (DFOIA) (Act, 29 Del. C. §§ 10001, et seq.), creates a general right of access to public records of “a public body.” The definition of public body is an agency or court created by the General Assembly. Because most of the states’ courts are constitutionally derived, the Judicial Branch is predominately considered beyond the scope of DFOIA.

Access to criminal history information is governed by statutes and policy related to the state criminal justice information system. Access to court records is governed by the Court Rules on Criminal Procedure. Access to corrections records is governed by statute and policy relevant to the Department of Corrections.

Criminal History Record Information - CHRI

Centralized criminal history information is confidential. Dissemination for research purposes is within agency discretion.

DELJIS Rules and Regulations

Delaware’s Criminal Justice Information system is known as DELJIS. DELJIS includes extensive information from courts, law enforcement, and prosecutors, in addition to being the informational foundation for many of the state’s criminal justice information servers, websites, and applications. It is also directly tapped into judicial electronic systems, such as the Judicial Information Center and Court Data Transfer. DELJIS is generally overseen by the Delaware Criminal Justice Information System Board of Managers. The State Bureau of Identification (SBI) also collects and maintains certain criminal history record information (CHRI) within the state, which gets reported into DELJIS. The SBI reporting requirements predated the development of DELJIS and, while those requirements are still in place, the DELJIS Board takes primary responsibility for centralized reporting and access to CHRI.

Criminal history record information is defined as “information collected by state or federal criminal justice agencies on individuals consisting of identifiable descriptions and notations of arrests, detentions, indictments, informations or other formal criminal charges and any disposition arising therefrom, sentencing, correctional supervision and release.” Criminal history information, such as conviction, nonconviction, and arrest information, is not specifically excluded from public access under DFOIA; the standard is that criminal files and criminal records, the disclosure of which would constitute an invasion of privacy, are not deemed public. The turning issue is whether disclosure would be an invasion of personal privacy—since the information in de-identified form is not an invasion of privacy. It is statute relevant to the SBI that makes CHRI non-public. Criminal history information that does not identify a particular individual is not CHRI. DELJIS has threaded this needle by disseminating information that replaces first and last name with a uniform case number, which is unique to individuals.

Though CHRI is not public information, it can be released to qualified individuals or organizations for legitimate research, evaluative, or statistical purposes. DELJIS maintains a process whereby applicants can apply for and information in their systems, subject to project approval by the Board and entering into an agreement that states the information will only be used for the purpose for which it was approved, will not be further disseminated, and other typical use and access-limiting terms. To apply for such access, interested individuals should contact DELJIS directly, as other criminal justice agencies are not permitted to disseminate CHRI. DELJIS still adheres to the rule of not releasing personal identifying information in these applications, users may request the uniform case number as a stand-in.

Court Records

Criminal court records are public record. Bulk dissemination is neither prescribed or prohibited.

Delaware Courts Policies on Public Access to Judicial Records

The Judicial Branch in Delaware is not subject to DFOIA. However, the courts have adopted policies that mirror, in large part, the rights of access found in DFOIA, including a response time of 10 days. Court records are, as is typical, divided into “case records” and “administrative records,” the former being information about actual cases. It is worth noting that the template policy AOC developed theirs from (and to which they link on their website) defines “case record” to include all compilations and aggregations of case information; AOC declined to adopt this holistic definition.

Administrative records may be requested centrally, through the Administrative Office of the Courts. According to Judicial Branch policy. Requests for case record information must still be directed to the court of jurisdiction. In Delaware, this means individuals seeking adult court record information from supra-municipal jurisdictions would need to request from each of the three Superior Courts and fourteen Justice of the Peace courts, which split jurisdiction over adult criminal cases based on type (felonies and drug to Superior; other misdemeanors to Justice of the Peace), each court type has their own rules.

Superior Court Rules dictate that court records should be generally publicly accessible. Criminal history record information (CHRI) contained in court or case records, relating to more than one court will not be disclosed, but case-related records related to proceedings occurring at the Superior Court of request may be disclosed. Requests will be responded to “as promptly as practicable,” though no specific timeframe is specified. Justice of the Peace Courts’ Rules mirror those of Superior Court. Requests for case records must be addressed to the custodian of those records; requests for administrative records should be addressed to the Court Administrator.

Corrections Records

Corrections records are confidential and not subject to public or research purpose disclosure.

Department of Corrections Policy 7.1. Case Records Management

The Delaware Department of Corrections is a public body created by the General Assembly and thus subject to the DFOIA public access framework, but its records are predominately exempted from public access. 11 Del. C. § 4233 states that presentence reports, preparole reports, supervision history and all other case records obtained in the discharge of the official duty by any member of the Department are privileged and are not to be disclosed directly or indirectly to anyone other than courts, Boards of Parole and Pardons, the Attorney General, and others entitled by statute to receive such information. The public is not entitled by statute to receive such information and there is no exception for research or evaluative purposes.

Department policy mirrors this framework, and further describes information to be contained in offender case files. Information to be included in offender case files includes six categories of information in addition to basic information such as full name, aliases, date of birth and SBI number: legal, classification, conduct, correspondence, supplemental, and confidential. Legal information includes information related to the courts, sentence, and offender identification, including time served, parole and pardon documents, FBI or SBI identification documentation and pending charge sheet. Classification information includes all offender classification and progress forms, including correspondence related to classification. Conduct information is material related to the offender’s institutional adjustment and program participation including adjustment board information and disciplinary reports. Correspondence refers to correspondence by the offender, including letters sent and received. Supplemental information incudes reports about the offender from other sources including probation and parole summaries, community/religious activities, emergency contact information, and strip search authorizations. Information classified as confidential includes pre-sentence investigation reports (PSI) and/or criminal history or probably cause narratives, psych reports, victim notification letters, and sex offender registration.

The Department does not maintain an online portal for general use to look up offender locations and/or information, and instead directs interested parties to use the Victim Information and Notification Everyday (VINE) system, offered through the National Victim Notification Network.

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Criminal Justice Data Location

Criminal History Data

The Delaware State Police State Bureau of Identification (SBI) serves as the state’s criminal history information repository. Though not intended for public data distribution, the SBI reviews data requests in accordance with the Delaware Freedom of Information Act.

Court Data

Delaware’s Superior Courts are the state’s trial courts of general jurisdiction, hearing felony cases and nearly all cases involving drug offenses. Below the Superior Courts, the Delaware Courts of Common Pleas have jurisdiction over all criminal misdemeanors, excluding those cases involving certain drug offenses. A third court type, Justice of the Peace Courts, hears select misdemeanors and most motor vehicle cases. Case processing information is reported centrally to the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) and made available to the public via the online CourtConnect Judicial Case Database. In addition, the AOC publishes annual statistics and various reports related to court operations.

Corrections Data

The Central Offender Records (COR) unit at the Delaware Department of Correction (DOC) maintains the Delaware Automated Correction System (DACS) which includes case level information on every individual sentenced to the supervision of the state. Since Delaware has a unified corrections system, this includes individuals sentenced to one of the four state prisons, as well as those confined to community corrections.

Other Known Data Sources

The Delaware Criminal Justice Information System (DELJIS) is the state agency tasked with overseeing the development and operation of the state’s Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS). Efforts to integrate Delaware’s criminal justice systems began around 1982 with the creation of DELJIS and implementation took off several years after with the merging of the DOC’s case management system the law enforcement computerized criminal history (CCH) database. State officials report that, as of 2021, the CJIS contains over 10 million charge records, and declare Delaware as the only state with a fully integrated, statewide criminal justice data system. Agencies and individuals can apply for access to the CJIS via DELJIS.
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Model Legislation

In 2017, Florida passed ground-breaking legislation to standardize the way the state collects and shares data. The bill proceeded from recommendations MFJ made to the Florida judiciary about the state of its data. Based on that bill and on our extensive experience with data collection, management, and release, we have developed Model Legislation that can serve as a guide to any state legislature invested in improving data and, by extension, its criminal justice system. While MFJ recommends tailoring this Model Legislation to the existing statutory framework and data infrastructure in each state, at minimum, all states need clear mandates regarding the following:

  • Data collection: all state and local criminal justice agencies should be required to collect a core set of data elements necessary for tracking how people and cases move through the criminal process.
  • Data centralization and standardization: all data should be standardized and housed in a single, centralized data repository
  • Data access: data should be available, with varying levels of anonymization, to policymakers, practitioners, researchers, journalists, and the general public.

THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE DATA COLLECTION AND TRANSPARENCY ACT

Whereas, complete, accurate, and timely criminal justice data are necessary for implementation and assessment of criminal process;

Whereas, data standards ensure data are consistent, reliable, and comparable;

Whereas, government should provide the public full access to information concerning the conduct of government, mindful of individuals' privacy rights and the desirability of the efficient administration of government.

Therefore, the following should be enacted:

SEC. 1. DEFINITIONS:

SEC. 2. DATA COLLECTION:

It shall be the duty of the state Department of Justice to collect all data described below from all state and local criminal justice agencies and from any other appropriate source. This includes the following data elements, which shall be collected electronically on a weekly basis from the following persons and agencies:

  1. Each local, county, and state law enforcement agency shall report the following information:
    1. For each arrest or citation/notice to appear summons in criminal cases:
      1. Arrest or citation number.
      2. Originating Agency Identifier
      3. Unique Identifier
      4. Incident date.
      5. Action taken: custodial arrest, non-custodial citation/summons/promise to appear, none, other
      6. Arrest or citation date.
      7. Arrest or citation charge statute number
      8. Arrest or citation charge severity.
      9. Whether charges were referred to the prosecutor and the date, if applicable.
    2. For each individual taken into custody or issued a citation:
      1. Full name and known aliases
      2. Year of birth.
      3. Zip code of primary residence.
      4. Race and ethnicity.
      5. Gender.
  2. Each clerk of court or other appropriate office shall collect the following data for each criminal case:
    1. Case number.
    2. Unique identifier as described by Section 2(a)(1)(iii).
    3. Offense date.
    4. County in which the offense was committed.
    5. Arrest date.
    6. Filing date.
    7. Arraignment date or initial appearance.
    8. Attorney assignment date.
    9. Attorney withdrawal date.
    10. Case status.
    11. Disposition date.
    12. For each defendant:
      1. Full name and known aliases
      2. Year of birth.
      3. Age at arrest
      4. Zip code of primary residence.
      5. Primary language.
      6. Race and ethnicity.
      7. Gender
      8. Citizenship
      9. Immigration status,
      10. Indigency status.
      11. Any habitual offender, sexual offender, and/or domestic violence designation.
    13. The following information on a formal charge filed against the defendant. Charge information shall include both filing and conviction charges where relevant.
      1. Charge number.
      2. Charge description.
      3. Charge statute.
      4. Charge type.
      5. Charge class severity.
      6. Charge disposition.
      7. The method of disposition (i.e. pretrial diversion, plea negotiation, or trial)
      8. Charge disposition date.
      9. Drug type for charge, if known.
    14. Plea date.
      1. The following information on bail or bond pretrial release:
      2. Pretrial release decision.
      3. Nonmonetary conditions of release
      4. Cash bail or bond amount.
      5. Booking date and reason.
      6. Date defendant is released on bail, bond, or pretrial release.
      7. Bail or bond revocation due to a new offense, a failure to appear, or violation of the terms of bail or bond.
    15. Any court dates and dates of motions and appearances.
    16. Defense attorney type (public defender, private counsel or contract attorney).
    17. The following information related to sentencing:
      1. Sentence date
      2. Charge sentenced to, charge number, charge description, statute, type, and charge class severity.
      3. Sentence type.
      4. Sentence length
      5. Sentence condition.
      6. Any time served credit and length
      7. Court fees amount.
      8. Court fees payment to date.
      9. Fine amount
      10. Fine amount balance or payment to date.
      11. Restitution amount ordered, amount collected, and amount paid to victim.
  3. Each district attorney shall collect the following data, if known:
    1. For each case screened:
      1. Case number
      2. Name
      3. Date of birth
      4. Charge referral date
      5. Charge screening decision date
      6. Charge screening decision (i.e. declined for prosecution/no information filed, filed, pretrial diversion/deferred prosecution)
      7. For each case sent to pretrial diversion or deferred prosecution:
        1. Pretrial diversion or deferred prosecution agreement date
        2. The outcome of a pretrial diversion or deferred prosecution agreement.
      8. For each case filed:
        1. Charge number
        2. Charge description
        3. Charge statute
        4. Charge type
        5. Charge class severity
        6. Date of plea offer and description of the plea offer.
        7. Date of adjudication if taken to trial.
      9. Action that initiated the case referral (i.e. arrest, warrant issued, sworn complaint, citation/summons/promise to appear, other)
    2. For a human victim of a crime of violence:For a human victim of a crime of violence:
      1. Race and ethnicity.
      2. Gender.
      3. Age.
      4. Relationship to defendant
    3. Number of full-time prosecutors
    4. Number of part-time prosecutors
    5. Annual felony caseload
    6. Annual misdemeanor caseload
  4. Each public defender, contract attorney or administrator, or overseer of any court appointment program shall collect the following data
    1. for each criminal case:
      1. Case number
      2. Name
      3. Date of birth
      4. Charge description, type, and severity
      5. Attorney assignment date
      6. Attorney withdrawal date
      7. Reason for withdrawal
      8. Dates for all meetings with client
      9. Method of all meetings with client (i.e. in person, phone call, video conference, other)
      10. Place of all meetings with client (i.e. detention facility, public defender's office, client's home, courthouse, other)
      11. Case outcome, including sentence imposed.
      12. Date of plea offer and description of the plea offer
    2. Number of full-time public defenders, as well as contract attorneys representing indigent defendants
    3. Number of part-time public defenders, as well as contract attorneys representing indigent defendants
    4. Annual felony caseload
    5. Annual misdemeanor caseload.
  5. The administrator of each county detention facility shall collect the following data:
    1. Jail capacity.
    2. Weekly admissions to jail for probation/parole revocation.
    3. Daily and year-end jail population.
    4. Daily and year-end jail pretrial population.
    5. Daily and year-end jail presentence population.
    6. Daily and year-end postsentence population.
    7. Daily and year-end federal and state inmates held in jail population.
    8. Daily cost of a jail bed.
    9. Daily number of correctional officers.
    10. Annual jail budget.
    11. For each inmate:
      1. Booking number
      2. Booking date
      3. Booking reason
      4. Monetary bond amount, if applicable
      5. Name and any known aliases
      6. Date of birth
      7. Release date
      8. Release type (e.g., ROR, released on monetary bond, released after completed sentence, transferred to prison, transferred to jail in another jurisdiction, transferred to ICE or other federal agencies, etc.)
      9. Time served credit length
      10. Any domestic violence, habitual offender, or sexual offender designations.
  6. The probation chief in each county shall collect the following data:
    1. For each probationer or supervisee:
      1. Full name and known aliases
      2. Year of birth.
      3. Race and ethnicity.
      4. Sex.
      5. Department assigned case number.
      6. Length of probation sentence imposed
      7. Length of probation sentence served.
      8. Probation release date or projected release date.
      9. Probation revocation due to technical violation or new offense.
    2. Daily cost per probationer.
  7. The Department of Corrections shall collect the following information
    1. For each prisoner:
      1. Full name and known aliases
      2. DOC number
      3. Year of birth
      4. Race and ethnicity.
      5. Number of children.
      6. Education level.
      7. Admission date
      8. Admission type.
      9. Whether the reason for admission is for a new conviction or parole violation.
        1. If for a parole violation, whether it was for a technical violation, based on a new offense, or other reason.
      10. institution and institution security level.
      11. Any domestic violence, habitual offender, or sexual offender designations.
      12. Committing county.
      13. Offense and statute of underlying criminal act.
      14. Whether the inmate is serving a concurrent or consecutive sentence.
      15. Length of sentence.
      16. Projected discharge date
      17. Time served, in days.
      18. Good conduct time earned.
      19. Any prior incarceration with the state.
      20. Disciplinary violation and action.
      21. Participation in rehabilitative or educational correctional programs.
    2. For each correctional facility:
      1. Budget
      2. Daily prison population.
      3. Daily cost of a prison bed.
      4. Daily number of correctional officers.
    3. The yearly inmate admissions by offense type.
    4. The overall recidivism rate of individuals released from prison.
      1. Recidivism shall be defined in the following manners within a three-year period following release:
        1. Reconviction
        2. Re-incarceration.
        3. Re-arrest.
    5. For each parolee under the Division of Parole:
      1. Full name and known aliases
      2. Year of birth
      3. Race and ethnicity
      4. Sex
      5. DOC number
      6. Length of parole term imposed and length of term served.
      7. Parole completion date or projected completion date.
      8. Parole revocation due to technical violation or new offense
    6. Daily cost per parolee.
    7. For each parolee receiving a parole release hearing
      1. For all individuals granted release from indeterminate life sentences:
        1. Difference between minimum eligible release date and actual release date
        2. Difference between youth offender parole eligible date and actual release date.
        3. Institution from which individuals is being released.
      2. For all individuals denied release from determinate sentences:
        1. Length of denial.

SEC. 3. DATA TRANSPARENCY:

In order to facilitate the availability of comparable and uniform criminal justice data, the department shall:

  1. Create an anonymized unique identifier for each criminal case which identifies the person who is the subject of the criminal case. The unique identifier must be the same for that person in any referral to prosecution or court case and used across local and state entities for all information related to that person. The number must be randomly selected.
  2. Within 2 years, develop Application Programming Interface (API) for submitting data electronically.
  3. Make all data received under Section 2 comparable, machine readable, transferable, and readily usable.
  4. Make the database available to the public, with identifying information removed, without the necessity of a license or charge a fee.
  5. Make the database available to eligible public agencies and research organizations without the necessity of a license or charge a fee.
  6. Create by rule how entities subject to the requirements of Section 2 will submit data electronically.
  7. Create by rule how the data is compiled, processed, structured, used, or shared.

Data repository best practices

MFJ recommends that all states identify a state agency to act as a criminal justice data aggregator and repository for data from local criminal justice agencies across the state. The specific agency serving in this function will vary based on state-specific dynamics and the organizational structure of the state criminal justice system. Below are a set of capabilities that a data aggregator and repository agency should have:

  1. Uses open web standards. Little use of proprietary technology.
  2. Uses security on the transport layer. Website is https (rather than http) even for non-login pages.
  3. Uses modern scaling technologies (Tech that allows you to handle large spikes in traffic).
  4. Has people on staff that are dedicated to web user-interface coding.
  5. Has people on staff that are dedicated to web service ("server-side") coding.
  6. Makes data available in machine-readable, open format files (i.e., you can get full datasets without scraping).
  7. Makes data available and searchable via modern web APIs (access to data directly through programs, not just by humans going to web pages).
  8. Has the capability to aggregate, stitch together and validate the data coming in.
  9. Can handle, for example, duplicate, overlapping or missing data and has processes for the rejection and re-transmission of invalid data.
  10. Uses standard best practices for data protection and redundancy (remote backups, logging, event detection).

Measures for Justice

If you’re interested in MFJ assessing your state’s data or want to know more about how to improve data collection, recording, and sharing, please contact us.

https://measuresforjustice.org/about/contact