Criminal Expungement Becoming Easier

It looks like Governor Rendell will be signing legislation to amend the existing rules on expungement of criminal records to make it easier to expunge the records of minor criminal matters.

Under present law, except for certain juvenile matters and minor infractions disposed of through Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition, most criminal convictions could not be expunged until age 70.  Thus, an individual pleading guilty to the minor crime of shoplifting a candy bar 20 years ago would still have that guilty plea and conviction on his or her criminal record.

Under the new law as proposed by the Pennsylvania General Assembly, criminal records related to summary offenses could be expunged by petition if the affected individual has been free of arrest or prosecution for five years following the date of conviction.  Summary offenses include such matters as disorderly conduct, criminal mischief, minor retail theft, trespassing, certain vehicle offenses and other low level criminal matters.  As of the date of this writing it appears that misdemeanors and felonies will not be eligible for the relaxed expungement rule.  Such offenses would still be eligible for expungement at age 70, and all criminal convictions still remain subject to the possibility of obtaining a pardon from the Governor under appropriate circumstances.

It appears that expungement under the new rule will be available by petitioning the county court of common pleas in which the prosecution occurred.  We have filed similar expungement petitions under the various county ARD programs and we expect the procedures under the new rule to be similar.

Over the years we have handled many minor criminal matters for clients who might now benefit from the new rule on expungement.  With the increasing use of background checks by employers the new expungement rule could generate a flurry of activity as potential job candidates seek to remove an old “lapse” from an otherwise good record.  We will continue to monitor this legislation and will report further when it has been signed by Governor Rendell, which we expect to occur before the end of the year.
Kevin Palmer


Posted in Personal / Family  |  Leave a comment

Leave a thought...