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A new law recently went into effect in Pennsylvania that will make more people eligible to have a criminal record expunged.  An expungement is a Court Order that requires the destruction of a criminal record.  In the past, only the following were permitted to be expungement:

  • Most charges following completion of the ARD Program
  • Charges that were dismissed (many people do not realize that when a charge is dismissed or someone is found not guilty, that charge still remains on the criminal record, although it will show that it was dismissed)
  • Summary offenses may be expunged if the defendant remains free of any convictions for a period of five years following the summary conviction
  • Charges may be expunged once a person reaches 70 years of age and has remained crime free for the proceeding ten years
  • A person that has been dead for three or more years would also qualify for an expungement

Under that rule, which is 1922 under the rules of criminal procedure, a person would not qualify for an expungement if he had a Misdemeanor or felony conviction unless the person did ARD, was 70 years old, or dead.  Under the new rule 1922.1, the following may be expunged:

  • Misdemeanor 3 and Misdemeanor 2 offenses so long as the crime is not punishable by more than 2 years of imprisonment.  To qualify for this expungement, the person would have to go ten years following the conviction without any new arrests and would have to have completed any requirements associated with their sentence.
    • The following would not qualify for expungement
      • 4 or more convictions where the potential sentence is one year or more
      • Simple assault that is graded as a Misdemeanor 2.  (the M3 simple assault would qualify for expungement)
      • intimidation of a witness
      • sexual intercourse with an animal
      • impersonation of a public servant
      • retaliation
      • any crime involving sex offender registration and
      • any crime involving the intimidation, retaliation, or obstruction relating to a child abuse investigation

Under 1922.1, although the charge can be expunged under the situations noted above, this would be a somewhat partial expungement.  For example, the expunged charged would no longer be available through any public searches and any state police background check would not show the charge, however, information regarding the conviction would remain on file with the prosecutors office so that if the person go into trouble in the future, the prosecutor could use the prior conviction when considering the prior record score for the current offense.

Also, an expungement under 1922.1 would not restore someone’s gun rights if their conviction resulted in the loss of any such rights.

If none of the above apply, a person can still have their criminal record removed through the Pardon process.  There are several differences between a pardon and an expungement.  First, if you meet one of the expungement criteria listed above, you  have a right to get an expungement.  There is no right to obtain a pardon.  An expungement is handled by filing a petition with the court of common pleas in the county in which the conviction occurred.  A pardon is filed with the state pardon board and ultimately would need the governor’s approval to be granted.

 

If you need assistance in clearing your criminal record, call us today for a free phone consultation.  717-490-6325