Expungements in Pennsylvania

What is an Expungement?

An expungement is the process the removing criminal charges from a person’s record. Only certain people qualify for expungement. If an expungement is granted, the court will order all agencies with a record of the arrest or conviction erased.

Why are expungements important?

A criminal history can greatly impact a person’s life.  A record can hinder a person’s ability to secure employment, professional licensing (nursing, contractors, therapists etc..), education, adoption, and housing.  Without an expungement, a background check will show all charges, regardless of whether you were found innocent or guilty.

Who is Eligible for expungement?

Only certain people are eligible for expungement. The following qualify:

  • Individuals accepted into the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program (ARD).
  • Persons charged, but never convicted.
  • Those people 21 or older, who were convicted of underage drinking at or over the age of 18, who have satisfied all the conditions of their sentence, including but not limited to drivers license suspension.
  • Persons who are 70 years or older and have been free from conviction for 10 or more years.
  • Persons found guilty of a summary offense, who have been free from arrest for 5 or more years following the conviction.
  • Persons whose charges were partially discharged (ex. pleaded guilty to a lower offense).

What is the expungement process?

The expungement process begins with a petition to the court. The District Attorney’s office has the right to challenge any expungement petitions submitted to the court. If the petition goes unchallenged, an order will be signed, and letters will be generated directing all agencies to erase all records of the case.

What IS the chance of Success?

Under Pennsylvania law, the District Attorneys office is required to show just case why a petition to expunge should not be granted. In the Commonwealth v. Wexler, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ruled that a heavy burden is placed on the Commonwealth to present compelling evidence. The court found that mere desire to have accurate records on hand and easily accessible was not enough. If you otherwise qualify for an expungement, Musi, Merkins, Daubenberger & Clark L.L.P. will use every tool at our disposal to ensure your record is expunged.

What if I do not qualify for an expungement?

Individuals who do not qualify for an expungement may qualify for Limited Access, or a pardon.

  • Limited Access- limited access allows people with minor misdemeanor convictions to seal their record, allowing only law enforcement agencies and state licensing authorities to access the record. To qualify, the charge must be nonviolent in nature, and the person must have been prosecution free for 10 or more years.
  • Pardon- pardons are available to people who don’t otherwise qualify for expungement or limited access. Technically anyone can apply for a pardon, however the chances of success are high if the person has remained prosecution free for 10 or more years.

***Further Questions about your Expungement or our Fees?

For further information about the expungement process, and or our fees for representation, please contact the head of our expungement division, Lindsay J. Killian, Esq., at 610-891-8806.