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criminal record will reflect any convictions; charges resulting in not-guilty verdicts; charges that were dismissed, withdrawn, and/or nolle prossed; charges that resulted in diversionary programs (ARD or Section 17); and certain juvenile adjudications.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. There are multiple benefits of clearing your record, including: obtaining professional or occupational licensure; advancing your career; restoring firearm rights; utilizing advanced education or degrees; and removing any reference to the crime from your record.
Criminal Docket Information
Contained within the docket sheet is both “Conviction Data” and “Non-Conviction Data.” Conviction data is information that you may have pleaded guilty or were found guilty. Non-conviction data is information that you were never found guilty (dismissed, withdrawn and/or nolle prossed), yet remains on your record because you have not requested the court to remove it.
Conviction and non-conviction data can be removed through various methods including; Expungement (partial and full redactions), Shield, and/or a Pardon. It is crucial to review every docket and all counts of an individual’s criminal record to determine eligibility.
Banks Law Group Process
Cleaning up your criminal record is not an easy undertaking. It can be very tedious, time consuming, and extremely confusing if not handled properly.
Banks Law Group employs a multi-step process to ensure that our clients fully understand the many variations of options, strategies, and outcomes when dealing with a criminal record. All depend on the facts of your case.
Step 1 – Criminal Docket Review & Strategy
Our team will gather all pertinent information and review each docket to determine eligibility. Once all information is gathered, we generate a Criminal Docket Review (CDR) letter detailing your options. In some cases, one option satisfies your needs; whereas, in others we need to combine strategies. We will specify what is on your record and how we can clean it up. This allows you to make an informed decision on the path that will yield the best results.
Step 2 – Strategy Implementation
Once you decide on the preferred method, we will execute on the agreed upon strategy to effectively eliminate your eligible criminal record. We prepare all documents and ensure that all procedure/process is properly executed in a timely manner. This includes ensuring, to the best of our ability, the courts prompt attention to this matter.
Step 3 – Confirmation
Once the process is complete we follow up with all repositories to ensure that the data has been removed from the records in accordance with the order of court. Repositories are the agencies within the Commonwealth that are specifically tasked with maintaining certain criminal records. For example, this potentially includes the Pennsylvania State Police, Department of Motor Vehicles, District Attorneys, and Police Departments. If they are responsible for erasing some or all of your criminal record, we double check their work on your behalf and make sure it is accomplished in a timely manner.
Do not hesitate and wait, take control of your legal situation today. Allow Banks Law to assist you every step of the way. Contact Attorney Matthew B. Banks directly at 844-815-9632 to evaluate your expungement options.