Criminal Record Expungement in Pennsylvania
If you have been found guilty of a crime in Pennsylvania, you are already aware of the negative consequences that can have on your life: difficulty getting jobs, finding housing and getting approval for loans/insurance, etc. It can also hurt your personal reputation.
People make mistakes all the time, but carrying those consequences around for the rest of your life can be daunting—and in some cases, unnecessary.
In Pennsylvania there are certain offenses that can be wiped from your criminal record, meaning that your charges will not be visible for anyone who runs a background check. It would be as if your arrest never happened.
Seeking the help of a qualified and experienced criminal defense attorney is the best way to determine if expungement is an option in your case. An attorney can assess your case specifically and help you through the process.
Do not carry an extra burden unnecessarily. See if your case qualifies for expungement.
Talk to a Criminal Defense Lawyer in PA who can help. Justin Ketchel offers free legal case evaluations—call him today at 412-456-1221.
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WHAT IS EXPUNGEMENT / RECORD SEALING?
When a person is convicted of a crime, the offense becomes part of his or her permanent criminal record. That means that anyone looking to find out information about your criminal history, for example, an employer, a school, or a loan originator, can access those details. Many crime convictions will stay on your criminal record for your lifetime.
This can be very detrimental to your future. Having a criminal record can make it very difficult to obtain employment, gain admission to schools or obtain financing for a purchase such as a car. This is where expungement can be a critical step in changing those difficult circumstances.
Expungement is the removal of all information relating to a criminal conviction so that there is no trace that it ever existed. If you are able to have your criminal conviction properly expunged, you may then answer no if asked if you have ever been convicted of a crime. Just in seeking employment alone this can be a major advantage.
While not all crimes can be expunged from your criminal record, there are a number that can. An experienced defense attorney will be able to advise you regarding your case and help you through the expungement process.
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CRIMES THAT ARE ELIGIBLE FOR EXPUNGEMENT IN PA
Only certain crimes are eligible for expungement and usually only after a certain time period or other obligations have first been met.
Offenses eligible for expungement in Pennsylvania include:
- Non-convictions: All offenses that have resulted in a non-conviction;
- Summary Offenses: If you were convicted of a summary offense but have been free from arrest or conviction for five (5) years from any other crime, you are eligible to apply for expungement;
- Underage Drinking: Expungement is mandatory in summary offense underage drinking cases if, at the time of conviction, the offender was 18 years or older, the applicant is over the age of twenty-one (21) at the time of the request or petition and completed all the terms of their sentence;
- Elderly Offenders: There are two ways an elderly person may be eligible for expungement. In the first, if the individual is age seventy (70) or above and has been free from criminal conviction for ten (10) years following their final release, they may petition for expungement. Alternatively, if the person has been deceased for at least three (3) years, their relatives may apply for expungement;
- Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD): ARD is a program for first time DUI offenders who, upon completion of a court-monitored program, are eligible for expungement upon successful completion of said program’s requirements;
- Probation Without Verdict (PWV): PWV is a program for non-violent drug offenses. Like ARD, upon successful completion of the program’s requirements, the offender is eligible for expungement.
HOW TO APPLY FOR EXPUNGEMENT IN PA
In order to have your record expunged, you or your attorney must petition the court and request the removal of the conviction.
Following the court process is the only way to get the conviction and all identifying information properly removed from the public records.
Court Process of Criminal Expungement or Record Sealing in PA:
- First, a petition is filed in the county where your conviction occurred. Once the petition is filed, the DA has the opportunity to challenge your petition.
- If there is a challenge to your petition, there will likely be a hearing held to determine whether or not your petition should be approved. The burden of proof is on the District Attorney to show why your petition for expungement should be denied by the court.
- If there is no challenge, the court may or may not hold a hearing. They can simply review your eligibility and make a determination without your presence.
It is important to note that expungement does not occur from the moment the judge grants your request or approves your petition.
It often takes the court time—up to six months or more—to complete the process.
Once the information has been properly removed, you are free to state that you have never been convicted of a crime as there will no longer be a record of your conviction. However, restricted access will still be granted to law enforcement and prosecutors in the event of any future criminal charges.
An experienced Pittsburgh criminal attorney can help you with the expungement process.
The help of a knowledgeable and experienced attorney can be invaluable in getting your record cleared. If you believe your crime qualifies for expungement, call us today.
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When you need personalized attention and a tough Pittsburgh criminal lawyer, Justin Ketchel is here for you.
Our team of experienced and successful attorneys handle cases in which people have been accused of DUI, drug offenses, violent crimes, and homicide, ranging from misdemeanor to felony offenses. If you are looking for comprehensive and experienced criminal lawyers, we are the law firm for you.
Call Ketchel Law for a free legal consultation at 412-456-1221
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