LET'S PUT THE PAST

IN THE PAST

REMOVING CRIMINAL RECORDS

Don’t let old arrests and convictions hold you back from getting ahead in life. Even if charges are withdrawn or dismissed or you are found not guilty, charges stay on your public record. Some old misdemeanor convictions on your public record do not need to remain there.  These can interfere with your ability to get a job, get housing or public assistance, enlist in the military and even protect your parental rights. But there are ways to fix this.

Expunging and sealing records can help you by either clearing your record or removing it from public view. Expunged records are destroyed and gone forever.  While law enforcement and the courts can still access sealed records, employers, landlords and the general public cannot.

As long as you haven’t been convicted of a charge, we can petition for either a full or partial expungement.  In some misdemeanor cases, you can be cleared of a conviction as well; see below for details.

EXPUNGEMENTS

Expungements can be granted for any conviction in these limited circumstances:

  • Summary non-traffic citations (so long as fines/costs are paid)
    • if you have been free from arrest for 5 years, or
    • if the conviction occurred before you were 18, and you are now 18+ and over 6 months has passed.
  • You are 70 and have been free from probation or incarceration for at least 10 years.
  • A relative has been deceased for at least three years.

AUTOMATIC SEALING

Automatic sealing

  • Non-convictions, after 60 days
  • Summary convictions, after 10 years
  • Low-level Misdemeanors, specifically any misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of 2 years or less, including Misdemeanor 2s and 3s and drug possession offenses, if you have been free from conviction for a Misdemeanor or Felony for 10 years and if you:
    • have no Felony convictions,
    • have no more than one Misdemeanor 1 conviction,
    • have a total of less than four convictions of any Misdemeanor and
    • have not been convicted of certain Misdemeanor 2s and 3s, including Indecent Exposure and Failure to Register as a sex offender.
  • Misdemeanors ineligible to seal: any crime of violence, firearms and sexual offenses, Corruption of Minors and Cruelty to Animals.

 

SEALING BY PETITION

Sealing by petition

  • Misdemeanors of any grading, if you have been free from conviction for a Misdemeanor or Felony for 10 years, and if you:
    • have never been convicted of murder, a Felony 1 or a felony punishable by over 20 years;
    • within the last 20 years have not been convicted of:
      • a felony involving firearms, violence, a sexual offense or failure to register for a sexual offense, or
      • 4 or more Misdemeanor 2s or higher; and
    • within the last 15 years have not been convicted of:
      • 2 or more Misdemeanor 1s or higher, or
      • certain offenses, including Indecent Exposure and failure to register for a sexual offense.
    • Misdemeanor 1 convictions ineligible to seal: any crime of violence, firearms and sexual offenses, Corruption of Minors and Cruelty to Animals.

 

If you are ineligible for expungement or sealing, you can apply for a pardon. This is a long process: after submission, it takes at least two years, and includes an investigation by the Board of Probation and Parole and a hearing before the Board of Pardons. The following are taken into consideration when deciding whether or not to grant a pardon:

  • The amount of time that has passed since the crime was committed
  • That you have completed and complied with all sentence requirements
  • That you have made positive changes to your life since the crime
  • What impact the crime had on the victim
  • Why you need the pardon (for example, that you have been turned down for jobs or housing)

HOW WE CAN HELP

If you need an expungement lawyer, we can advise you on whether you are eligible to petition for expungement, sealing or a pardon for your record. We can petition to expunge or seal your record at no cost.

FAYETTE COUNTY

The PA State Police criminal background must be attached to the petition, and it is filed with the Clerk of Courts, which submits to the District Attorney’s Office for its consent or objection, and then it is presented to the assigned Judge. For local rules, go to www.co.fayette.pa.us.

GREENE COUNTY

The PA State Police criminal background must be attached to the petition, and it is submitted to the District Attorney’s Office for its consent or objection, then presented to the assigned Judge. For local rules, go to www.co.greene.pa.us.

SOMERSET COUNTY

The PA State Police criminal background must be attached to the petition, and it is submitted to the District Attorney’s Office for its consent or objection, then presented to the assigned Judge. For local rules, go to www.co.somerset.pa.us.

WASHINGTON COUNTY

Expungement applications must go to the District Attorney’s Office for consent or objection. If the DA’s Office objects, a hearing can be requested. If probation was involved due to ARD or Probation Without Verdict, the application must first go to the Clerk of Courts to confirm all costs have been paid, then to Adult Probation to confirm your compliance with its supervision. The Unified Judicial System docket of the case must be attached to the petition. For local rules, go to www.washingtoncourts.us.

The criminal records law is found at 18 Pa.C.S. Chapter 91. Your dockets can be viewed at http://ujsportal.pacourts.us, and criminal backgrounds can be obtained at http://www.psp.pa.gov.

For more online information, go to www.palawhelp.org.