The Right Approach For The Right Situation

Are expunging and sealing records options?

On Behalf of | Mar 12, 2021 | Criminal Defense

A person convicted of a crime years or even decades ago would be mistaken to assume that problems related to the conviction will go away if “enough time passes.” The truth is that without an expungement, a criminal records can persist for a person’s whole life. In fact, the only circumstances under which an expungement is allowed in Pennsylvania are the following:

  • If the person reaches 70 years of age and has not been arrested or prosecuted for the past 10 years
  • If the person has already been dead for three years
  • If the person only committed a summary offense and has not been arrested or prosecuted in the five years since

Thankfully, Pennsylvania law does provide options for those interested in expunging or sealing a criminal record.

Clearing a record through expungement

Background checks reveal a biography of any legal troubles. If a person is applying for a job, an apartment lease or anything else that requires a background check, a past criminal conviction could appear, and consequences may follow. Outside of a pardon, expungement provides a possible solution to removing records of criminal activity.

Expungement renders past criminal records inaccessible to anyone other than the courts, who may only use it in the context of any future arrest or investigation. Once expunged, a criminal record is essentially gone. Some people may wonder if they must admit to a criminal record when asked. After a record has been expunged, someone could legally say that they have no past criminal convictions.

A laywer can help to navigate the process

Anyone interested in a legal expungement must go through a formal legal process. The process does not come with a guaranteed outcome, but filing for an expungement could be well worth the effort considering the potential rewards.

Pennsylvania law also affords an option for partial expungement.  “Sealing” criminal records is a separate process. Several misdemeanor convictions may be eligible for records sealing.

Sealing or expunging records requires presenting a completed petition to the court. The petition goes to the courts for review and adjudication based on criminal law statutes. Working with an attorney may be necessary for accuracy and thoroughness with a petition.