Our criminal defense law firm represents individuals charged with crimes and offenses in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. While our firm strives to provide the best possible representation there are situations where a person is convicted at trial or enters into a negotiated guilty plea to charges. The goal for any client and their family is to mitigate the long-term consequences of the conviction so that they can move forward with their life with the least possible hinderances toward the advancement.
In Pennsylvania, unlike New Jersey, the expungement process is much more limited and in most situations anything but the following can NOT be expunged in Pennsylvania
- a non-conviction,
- a completed diversion program,
- a summary conviction (when arrest free 5 years post conviction)
- a conviction for a client over the age of 70 (when 10 year arrest free.)
Who is eligible for an expungement in Pennsylvania?
In Pennsylvania, anyone who is not convicted is eligible for an expungement immediately following the final disposition. The grading of the offense is irrelevant. A non-conviction is an acquittal, a case dismissed for lack of prosecution or lack of evidence (Motion to Suppress Evidence) or situations where the prosecution withdraws the charges or requests the Court to nolle prossed criminal charges.
Persons who complete diversion programs like ARD, Section 17, the Pennsylvania underage summary diversion alcohol education program are eligible for expungements. Following completed diversion program, however, there may be a waiting period depending on the program. Again, the grading of the offense doesn’t matter, but in most situations persons who receive diversion programs aren’t charged with felony offenses but rather low-grade misdemeanors or summary offenses. A condition of any diversion of completion is the payment of fines and costs. In addition, the Petition for Expungement must contain a certificate of completion.
Summary convictions are eligible for expungements if there is a five-year arrest free period following conviction. In most situations, convictions aren’t eligible for expungements in Pennsylvania.
Summary offenses are very low-level offenses and the maximum punishment is 90 days of county incarceration and a $500 fine; unlike misdemeanors where the maximum punishment is as much as 5-years of State prison (M1) and up to 20-years for a felony conviction (F1). Similar to diversion programs, any summary conviction requires that the person pay all outstanding costs and fines before petitioning for the expungement.
Over the age of 70
Finally, there are rare situations where a person convicted of even a felony offense is eligible for an expungement. If the person is over the age 70 and has 10 years of an arrest free record, he or she is eligible for an expungement in Pennsylvania.
If you are not eligible to have your criminal record expunged, ask your criminal defense lawyer about sealing your criminal record so that future employers won’t be able to see it
Pennsylvania Criminal Record Sealing Law
Where a person isn’t eligible for an expungement, Pennsylvania has created a record sealing law. As a general rule, misdemeanors are eligible for automatic sealing and do not require petitions:
There are however excluded misdemeanor convictions which would require a petition to the Court, these include the following misdemeanor:
- illegal gun and firearms crimes;
- sexual crimes;
- cruelty to animals;
- corruption of minors offenses.
Any person who is convicted of a felony, two or more Misdemeanors of the first degree or four or more Misdemeanors is not eligible for automatic sealing and require a petition to the court. Finally, sealing requires that the person remains arrest free for 10 years following the applicable conviction(s).