Unfortunately, former criminal offenders in Pennsylvania can only obtain an expungement of their criminal records under limited circumstances. If you follow this blog post, you will be closer to determining whether or not you can. As always, however, we recommend you give the lawyers at GTN a call to understand your rights further, as this is purely informational and not legal advice.
First, What Exactly Is An Expungement?
Expungement means the removal of information so that there is no trace or indication that such information existed. If your records are expunged, no one will be able to find them associated with your name. However, it is important to know that your information may still appear on Federal FBI database searches.
Under Pennsylvania Law, Criminal History Record Infomation Must Be Expunged When:
1) No "disposition" (in non-legal words, a "conviction" or other "final action by a judge") has been received by the defendant, or no disposition has been recorded within 18 months after the date of arrest and the action is no longer pending;
2) A court orders that a record showing a "non-conviction" be expunged; or
3) A person that is 21 years of age or older who was convicted of an alcohol-related charge between the ages of 18 and 21 has now completed all of the terms and conditions of the sentence imposed upon him and petitions the court for expungement.
Under Pennsylvania Law, Criminal History Records May Also be Expunged When:
1) The person with the charges reached 70 years of age and has been free of arrest or prosecution of any kind for 10 years following his release from confinement or supervision;
2) The person with the charges has been deceased for three years;
3) The person with the charges petitions the court to expunge a summary offense and he/she has been arrest or prosecution free for 5 years following the conviction of that summary offense (if you have a misdemeanor or felony conviction, this does not apply to you).
In summary, if you have been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony, you cannot get an expungement unless you have been dead for 3 years or are over 70 years old without any criminal record for 10 years since your release from state supervision. You can petition the court for an expungement if the charges were dismissed, acquitted, nolle prossed, withdrawn, or if your conviction was for a summary offense and you have been arrest or prosecution free for 5 years.
All individuals seeking an expungement will have to acquire their "Access and Review Report" from the Pennsylvania State Police. This document will reflect your entire criminal history. The court requires that this document be attached to a Petition for Expungement, and your lawyer will want you to bring it to your first consultation in order to adequately inform you of your expungement rights.