What is an Expungement?
An Expungement in Pennsylvania is the process by which a petition is filed with the Court requesting an Order erasing or removing offenses from a criminal record. In the appropriate circumstances, the Court will send the Order to the specific agencies that have a copy of the record (Pennsylvania State Police, AOPC, Local Police, etc.) requiring them to destroy the criminal arrest record.
In certain circumstances, the entire record can be expunged. In others, a portion of the record may be redacted. It depends on the overall outcome of your specific case. An expungement completely removes all arrest information from a criminal record; whereas, a redaction (partial expungement) removes only non-conviction data.
Why is an Expungement Important?
An expungement is incredibly important because a criminal record can significantly impact an individual’s ability in obtaining professional or occupational licensure; advancing their career, employment, education, occupation; housing applications; and benefits.
Criminal records can be obtained by utilizing a web based public docket sheet (PA Portal), Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) record check, FBI record checks, and/or a private criminal record check company. The PSP, FBI, and private record check do cost a fee and are somewhat restricted to specific needs; whereas, the PA Portal is free, quick, and easy to use. A vast majority of people utilize the PA Portal. All of the above report both conviction and non-conviction data. If you haven’t cleaned up your record, via and expungement, anyone can see what you were arrested for.
The vast majority of issues that arise from non-expunged matters occur within the employment search process. Unfortunately, we live in an age where information is easily obtained and interpretation is in the “eye of the beholder.” Under PA and Federal law, employers should not be considering non-conviction data as a barrier to employment; however, this is often the case. Additionally, more small to medium sized employers are simply utilizing the PA Portal for their information, rather than paying a large fee to private record check company to sort through the information. The Portal is just as accurate and free.
Your criminal record will reflect any convictions; charges resulting in not-guilty verdicts; charges that were dismissed, withdrawn, and/or nolle prossed; charges that resulted in diversionary programs (ARD or Section 17); and certain juvenile adjudications.
By removing non-conviction data from your record, you minimize the negative impact and control what individuals looking up your record can see.
Who is eligible for an expungement?
An individual may be eligible for an expungement, generally, if:
- The charges were withdrawn, dismissed, or nolle prossed;
- Summary conviction more than five years old and you have been free from subsequent arrests;
- Underage Drinking when you have reached the age of 21 years of age and your conviction happened after you were 18 years of age;
- Certain juvenile records;
- Completion of diversionary programs such as ARD or Section 17 dispositions;
- An individual 70 years old;
- An individual who is dead for at least 3 years; and
- Convictions that have been pardoned.
Are there any exceptions or exclusions that impact an expungement?
An individual will be excluded from expunging their record if they were convicted of one of the following sections:
- 3121 – Relating to rape
- 3122.1 – Relating to statutory sexual assault
- 3123 – Relating to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse
- 3124.1 – Relating to sexual assault
- 3125 – Relating to aggravated indecent assault
- 3126 – Relating to indecent assault
- 3127 – Relating to indecent exposure
- 5902(b) – Relating to prostitution and related offenses
- 5903 – Relating to obscene and other sexual materials and performances
What is the Process in obtaining an expungement?
Our team will gather all pertinent information (arrest records, criminal background check, etc.) Once all information is gathered, a petition will be prepared on your behalf and submitted to the Court for review. The District Attorney will have an opportunity to object to the expungement and has a predetermined time frame to do so. If the District Attorney does not object, the Court will either grant your petition. If granted, your signed expungement order will be sent to the various agencies. If the District Attorney does object, a hearing will be scheduled before a Judge to determine whether or not an expungement is acceptable. The process can take six to ten months.
Nearly every conviction is eligible for a pardon. The process begins by requesting an application from the Board of Pardons. Once the application is completed and submitted to the Board of Pardons, it will begin its investigation into the facts of the crime. You will be interviewed by the investigative agents from Probation and Parole. Upon completion of their investigation, the agents will submit a report to the Board regarding the facts surrounding your case and your character now, not then. The Board members will then review this report and application, known as a “merit review,” to determine whether or not your case will be given a hearing.
There is no litmus test applied to the review process; however, the Board will look to several factors routinely including:
- How much time has passed since the crime was committed
- Have you satisfied all court requirements
- Have positive changes occurred in your life since the crime occurred
- Why do you need or why are you requesting the pardon
- How serious is the impact on the victims of your crime
It is important to note that satisfactory responses will no guarantee acceptance, nor does missing any.
If you are granted a hearing, you will be afforded the opportunity to address the Board and explain your side of the story, why you are seeking a pardon, and how your life has changed since the criminal act. After the hearing, the Board will vote. If you receive 3 out of 5 members vote, then your application will be recommended to the Governor. The Governor will either, upon review, grant or deny your pardon.
This process is very due to the high volume of applications. From start to finish, a pardon could take from 2 to 4 years. Time frames should not be discouraging; however, it is important to keep a realistic time frame in mind.
If you are seeking an Expungement or a Pardon and are in need of an experienced Expungement or Pardon attorney or Expungement or Pardon law firm, please do not hesitate to contact us Banks Law Group at 844-815-9632 and speak with one of our trusted Expungement or Pardon lawyers.