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!