Expungement in Pennsylvania

Posted by Danny Katz on September 17, 2015

Handshake, Legal, Expungement

Getting convicted of even a small crime is a traumatic experience. Arrest, investigation, and the trial can all be harrowing to go through, and what’s worse, you now have a criminal record that will follow you everywhere. However, not all hope is lost! There is an option that allows you to, at least on paper, move past all of that unpleasantness. This option is expungement and it is the process of sealing arrest and conviction records. Simply put, this offers you a fresh start with no record of your arrest or conviction.

In the state of Pennsylvania, there are certain criteria that must be met in order to be granted expungement. Here are some general rules:

  • Lack of Conviction:
    • If 18 months have passed since your arrest, and there is no pending criminal action, you may apply for expungement.
  • Summary Offenses:
    • You may apply for expungement of summary offenses. The most common of these are traffic offenses, but other than that, many people are convicted under a catch-all charge called Disorderly Conduct. This is a minor offense, and people have been charged with this for a large variance of things, from fighting, to small amounts of marijuana, to being too loud at a party, and other behaviors that are generally considered a nuisance. You must be free from any sort of arrest or conviction for 5 years after your summary offense conviction in order to qualify for expungement.
  • Specific Misdemeanors (from 18 Pa. C.S.A. § 9122(a)(3)):
    • a person 21 years of age or older who has been convicted of a violation of section 6308 (relating to purchase, consumption, possession or transportation of liquor or malt or brewed beverages), which occurred on or after the day the person attained 18 years of age, petitions the court of common pleas in the county where the conviction occurred seeking expungement and the person has satisfied all terms and conditions of the sentence imposed for the violation, including any suspension of operating privileges imposed pursuant to section 6310.4 (relating to restriction of operating privileges).
  • Crimes other than summary and above specified offenses:
    • Cannot be expunged until after the offender turned 70 years old and has been free from arrest or conviction or 10 years prior.
    • Can also be expunged if offender has been deceased for more than three years.
  • You have completed a program like ARD and the court orders expungement upon completion. ARD will be discussed in a future blog, but for today’s purposes, it can be summed up as an alternative program for first time offenders to avoid serious penalties.
  • Some offenses, even if you have been granted ARD prohibit you from applying for expungement. They are as follows (From 18 Pa. C.S.A. § 9122 (b.1) :
    • Any offense set forth in any of the following where the victim is under 18 years of age:
      • Section 3121 (relating to rape).
      • Section 3122.1 (relating to statutory sexual assault).
      • Section 3123 (relating to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse).
      • Section 3124.1 (relating to sexual assault).
      • Section 3125 (relating to aggravated indecent assault).
      • Section 3126 (relating to indecent assault).
      • Section 3127 (relating to indecent exposure).
      • Section 5902(b) (relating to prostitution and related offenses).
      • Section 5903 (relating to obscene and other sexual materials and performances).

If you think that you are eligible for expungement contact me. We can begin the process that starts with obtaining necessary documents and petitioning the court. Expungement is not a difficult process to go through, but it does require a lot of technicalities. Remember, this Katz got your back!

How to Protect Yourself against Self Incrimination

Posted by Danny Katz on March 10, 2015

Do you know your rights under the Fifth Amendment of the Bill of Rights? Well, for those who don’t, your Fifth Amendment rights include your right against self-incrimination. It is a very important to know your rights included the Bill of Rights so that you may handle your encounters (if you unfortunately have one) with law enforcement appropriately.

Amendment V:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Have you ever heard the phase, “I Plead the Fifth”? That phrase is often used in the context of someone refusing to speak because doing so will prove incriminating. At times, law enforcement or the prosecution may try to convince you to give them information that will only help them build a case against you. Do NOT do this. You are not obligated to give the police or the court any information that will jeopardize your case.

Exercise your right to “Plead the Fifth”. If you find yourself in a sticky situation, tell the authorities that you want a lawyer. By law, they are obligated to stop all questioning until a lawyer is present. If they continue to question you, they cannot use anything you say against you in the court of law. Your request must be unambiguous, and I recommend the language “I have nothing further to say. I would like to speak to my attorney at once, and would like to contact him/her immediately”.

Knowing your rights does not make you a criminal, but surrendering your rights could make you a victim. If you need a lawyer, contact me. I am more than willing to take your case, educate you on your rights, and make sure your rights are not being violated. Remember, this Katz, got your back!