Pennsylvania Criminal Record Expungement
If you or somebody you know is living with a criminal record in Pennsylvania, you probably know how frustrating it can be to have those past mistakes hold you back in life. Unfortunately, like most states, Pennsylvania makes it easy to access the criminal records of its offenders. Coupled with an increase in inexpensive online background check sites, having a Pennsylvania criminal record can keep you from getting the job you deserve, desirable housing, professional licenses, and countless opportunities which would otherwise be available without a criminal record.
Fortunately, Pennsylvania State law provides options to expunge or seal the criminal records for many living with a Pennsylvania criminal record. An expungement or record seal can help you move on in life without the burden of having a criminal past. After obtaining a Pennsylvania expungement, you may legally state that you were not convicted or arrested of the expunged offense, and if your expungement order is properly enforced, commercial background check companies are legally required to remove your expunged records from their databases.
How to Remove Your Pennsylvania Record
Pennsylvania’s expungement laws used to be very restrictive, and only available in limited cases. However, the Commonwealth recently passed new legislation, offering an “order for limited access” to several Pennsylvania misdemeanors – which is basically a record seal. Our firm offers the following legal services in Pennsylvania:
- Pennsylvania Criminal Record Expungement: Pennsylvania State law allows for the expungement of many criminal records. Once a conviction is expunged, an offender may deny that he/she was ever convicted, and the records are destroyed. Expungement in Pennsylvania is generally available for cases that were dismissed (non-conviction), given ARD probation (& successful completion), or summary offense convictions.
- Pennsylvania Record Sealing: Pennsylvania recently enacted a new law to obtain an “order for limited access,” which essentially seals the record from the general public. Generally, an order for limited access is available for second and third-degree misdemeanor convictions, or ungraded offenses.
- Pennsylvania Firearm Rights Restoration: Pennsylvania State law allows for a person to petition the court for a restoration of firearm rights. Firearm restoration is available to those who are not likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety, and will remove state restrictions to firearm ownership and use.
- Pennsylvania Probation Termination: Pennsylvania allows individuals under court supervision to request to have their probation terminated early. Once probation is terminated, you would not have to divulge that fact to employers, and you may be eligible for expungement even sooner. Generally, this service is available to those who have paid all court costs, and otherwise have complied with the terms of sentencing.
Why You Should Hire WipeRecord
If you successfully obtain an expungement in Pennsylvania, your case will be completely removed from the Pennsylvania Unified Judicial System, restricting access to the public, and preventing Pennsylvania State agencies from using expunged offenses against you.
Other benefits of a Pennsylvania expungement include:
- Improving your ability to obtain higher-paying job opportunities
- Improving access and admission to college and other educational resources
- Being able to legally state that you have not been arrested or convicted of a criminal offense to employers and landlords
- Becoming eligible for professional licenses you previously did not qualify for
- Increased eligibility for student loans, housing assistance, and government programs
- Eliminating the concern and potential embarrassment of failing a background check by removing public access to sensitive personal information
If you’re ready to move on in life without a criminal record holding you back, our law firm has is here to help—the first step is simply taking our free, confidential Eligibility Test to see if you qualify. If you would prefer to speak with one of our Licensed Attorneys or Criminal Records Analysts, just give us a call toll free at (844) 947-3732.
You can trust that you will get exceptional service form our law firm, as we have an A Rating from the Better Business Bureau, our attorneys are rated as Super Lawyers, and as Superb Attorneys by prestigious attorney rating services such as Thompson Reuters and Avvo. Our law firm has attorneys licensed to practice law in all Pennsylvania state courts, provides low price guarantees, and is here to fight for you and put your criminal record behind you!
Pennsylvania Criminal Record Removal Services
Currently, Pennsylvania’s expungement and sealing laws are generally limited to the following types of Pennsylvania criminal records:
Expungement of Successful Accelerated Rehabilitative Dispositions (ARD)
You should qualify for a Pennsylvania expungement if you have successfully completed an ARD program for a criminal offense and had the charges dismissed.
- If you have successfully completed ARD prior to March 28, 2013, your ARD case will not be automatically expunged upon completion of the program—you must specifically petition the court to remove your criminal record after completion of your ARD program.
- For ARD programs which have been successfully completed after March 28, 2013, your associated criminal record should be automatically expunged. However, this is not always the case, and if your criminal record is still appearing after completion of your ARD program, please contact us for help in ensuring that it is properly expunged.
Expungement of Arrest Records
If you have been arrested for a criminal offense, but have not been convicted, the record of your arrest unfortunately remains visible and easily accessible to the public—successful expungement will remove your arrest record from the public record as if it never occurred.
You will typically be eligible to expunge a Pennsylvania arrest record if any of the following are true: (i)your case was dismissed; (ii) you were found not guilty, or (iii) the charges were withdrawn or nolle prossed. If you have been arrested, but still have charges pending, you will not qualify to have your arrest record expunged.
Expungement of Summary Offenses
Under Pennsylvania Law, a “Summary Offense” is not a misdemeanor or a felony—these are lesser criminal offenses, including but not limited to: disorderly conduct, trespass, criminal mischief, underage drinking, retail theft, harassment, and other low-level offenses. A complete list of Summary Offenses can be found here.
Here are the general requirements for a summary offense expungement:
- If you were over 18 when convicted of a Summary Offense, five years must elapse without another arrest before you may be eligible for expungement.
- If you were under 18 years when convicted of a Summary Offense, you may expunge it once you’ve turned 18 and six months have passed since paying all fines.
Click here to read the Pennsylvania expungement statute.
Record Sealing of Misdemeanor Convictions (Order for Limited Access)
Pennsylvania has recently passed a new set of record sealing laws, which now permit certain misdemeanor convictions to be sealed, regardless of whether ARD was granted or successfully completed. The legal term for this service in Pennsylvania is an “order for limited access.” Records sealed under the new law are not destroyed and remain available only to a limited number of state agencies. If you are granted an “order for limited access,” your records will no longer be available to the general public, private employers, or landlords.
The general qualifications for sealing a misdemeanor conviction are as follows: (i) the misdemeanor must be a second or third degree misdemeanor, or an “ungraded offense;” (ii) ten years must have passed since you have completed the terms of your sentence, and you cannot have been arrested or convicted of a crime during that time period; and (iii) it must not be a prohibited offense (such as intimidating a witness or an offense requiring sexual offender registration)—you can find a list of these offenses HERE.
Unfortunately, not all criminal records are eligible for expungement under current Pennsylvania State Law; however, the new record sealing law may now be available to you instead. If you’d like to find out whether your offense qualifies for one of these Pennsylvania criminal record removal services, feel free to contact us today. The expungement and record sealing process in Pennsylvania can be difficult to accomplish without the assistance of an attorney. It’s recommended that you consult a law firm experienced in such matters to work on removing your criminal record so that you can move on in life without that heavy burden.
Pennsylvania Firearm Rights Restoration
Pennsylvania Title 18 Cons. Stat. § 6105 states that a person who has been convicted of a disabling offense may petition the court in the county of their residence for a restoration of firearm rights. This is generally available for offenses that have been vacated, pardoned, or those in which case 10 years have passed since the most recent conviction.
Furthermore, the court “shall grant” relief, after a hearing, to any person that has not been convicted of certain enumerated offenses or any other crime punishable by imprisonment exceeding one year unless [the court] determines that “the applicant’s character and reputation is such that the applicant would not be likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety.”
Unfortunately, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that because the firearm restoration statute does not effectively relieve the petitioner of all civil rights lost upon conviction, a person that receives a court order under this section is still federally prohibited from possessing firearms under the Gun Control Act.*
Therefore, although this legal service may remove any state restrictions on firearm possession and ownership, it seems that it would not fully restore your firearm rights under federal law. This may alternatively be done through a Pennsylvania Governor’s Pardon. Firearm restoration matters can be complicated because of this mix of state and federal law. For matters such as these, it’s best to consult an attorney experienced in firearm and expungement laws to determine your options.
*Pa. State Police v. Paulshock, 575 Pa. 378, 836 A.2d 110 (2003).
Pennsylvania Probation Termination
Title 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 9771 states that “the court may at any time terminate continued supervision or lessen or increase the conditions upon which an order of probation has been imposed.” Therefore, Pennsylvania law allows persons who are on probation to request that the court terminate it early. Early probation termination is beneficial because a) you would not have to inform employers, others that you’re currently servicing a sentence of court supervision, and b) it starts running the clock for expungements and sealing a bit sooner. Therefore, by terminating your sentence early, you may be eligible to seal or expunge your record earlier than you normally would have.
If you are anxious to expunge your record and you’re still on probation, you can apply to end your probation early. Generally, all fines and court costs must be paid in full and you must have successfully complied with all other sentencing requirements. Finally, to be considered for early probation termination, you should have completed at least 50% of your probationary term.
In deciding whether or not to end probation early the courts will most likely consider the following: criminal history, age, seriousness of the offense you were charged with, current amount of time spent on probation. Furthermore, a hearing will likely be held on the matter – which our firm will cover by an attorney. The entire process can typically take months to complete, so contact our firm to see if you qualify for this Pennsylvania legal service.
Having an experienced attorney by your side is your best bet when seeking one of the above Pennsylvania services. Generally, procedures such as these are more complex than you originally think, and having an experienced attorney will greatly help your case. Contact our firm or take our newly updated eligibility test to see if you qualify for one of our services.
Click here to read the Pennsylvania expungement statute.
Pennsylvania Office Location:
1650 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
*By appointment only