Will that noise complaint from college always be on my criminal record?
Removing a conviction from your criminal record is a process referred to as expungement. So then, what does it take to expunge a criminal record in Pennsylvania? The answer to that question depends on what criminal charge you were convicted of, and how long it has been since you pled guilty or were found guilty.
Expungement in Pennsylvania is governed by 18 Pa.C.S. §9122. The most common way to have a criminal record expunged is to participate in an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program, which is a diversionary program that exists in every County to divert first-time offenders of lower-level crimes into programs that require the offender to complete requirements, such as community service or an alcohol highway safety class, in order to have the criminal record expunged. ARD programs are slightly different in every County, and the District Attorney will ultimately determine who is eligible and what the requirements are for the offender to have his or her record expunged. In addition, not all counties automatically expunge the criminal record after the offender completes the ARD program, and require the offender to file a motion for expungement after completing the ARD requirements. If you’ve participated in an ARD program and want to know if your criminal record was automatically expunged or if you need to file a motion for expungement, contact one of our experienced criminal law attorneys at Scaringi Law.
Aside from ARD, expungements in Pennsylvania are rather limited. Under 18 Pa.C.S. §9122(b), a criminal history may be expunged if 1) the individual seeking expungement is 70 years of age or older and has been free of arrest or prosecution for ten years; 2) the individual seeking expungement has been dead for at least three years; or 3) the conviction sought to be expunged is a summary offense and the individual seeking expungement has been free of arrest and prosecution for at least five years following conviction of the summary offense.
In summary, if you’re over the age of 70 and have been crime-free for over ten years, you may be able to seek an expungement of your criminal record. In addition, if you’ve been dead for at least three years, your estate may also seek an expungement on your behalf. For most of us, however, aside from completing an ARD program, the only way to receive an expungement is if the conviction was for a summary offense, and the individual seeking expungement has been crime-free for at least five years following the summary conviction.
The only exception to this rule that is worth noting is provided in 18 Pa.C.S. §9122(a)(3), which states that a person who is over 21 years old who was convicted of violating 18 Pa.C.S. §6308 (underage drinking) after they turned 18, and who has satisfied all terms and conditions of his or her sentence, may seek expungement of the underage drinking charge.
Under every other scenario, aside from completing an ARD program, or obtaining a pardon from the Governor, the only way to get an expungement of your prior criminal conviction is if the criminal conviction is a summary offense and you have been crime-free for at least five years since then. Misdemeanor and felony convictions that were not handled through the ARD program, aside from a misdemeanor underage drinking offense under 18 Pa.C.S. §6308, are not eligible for expungement, unless you first obtain a pardon from the Governor.
To remove a misdemeanor or felony conviction from your criminal record, you have to seek a pardon through the Governor of Pennsylvania, which is an entirely different process than expungement. Our firm is one of the leading pardons law firms in Pennsylvania. To date, we‘ve handled around 80 pardon applications from clients across Pennsylvania. For more information about the Pennsylvania pardons process and for an evaluation of your case, contact Scaringi Law’s pardons and expungements attorneys.
Another option is Pennsylvania’s new Limited Access law. A Limited Access Court Order prevents your criminal record from being viewed from the public including current or potential employers, banks and loan officers and others. And, it allows you to legally refuse to reveal any information regarding your criminal record. Limited access is not available for 1st degree misdemeanors, as well as most felonies.
If you or a loved one wishes to seek an expungement, pardon or limited access order, contact our office, 717 775 7195, to speak with one of our experienced pardons and expungements attorneys at Scaringi Law.