Overview of Pennsylvania Criminal History Record Expungements

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jun 19, 2018

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Expungement in Pennsylvania is the removal of information from your criminal history record (publicly available record under state), with the result there is no public record the information ever existed. Expungement eliminates data that could otherwise be used to trace your identity: though some remaining data may be used for statistical purposes. In no case is ALL information related to your arrest “destroyed” completely. Aside from statistical uses, your information will be preserved and accessible by judicial officers in case you are arrested and sentenced in the future. Though employers, landlords, financial lenders and similar other members of the public (e.g., who conduct background checks) will have no access to an expunged record, the judiciary retains access to determine your eligibility for bail and other aspects related to sentencing in the future.

In Pennsylvania, under some circumstances, you may be eligible to have a criminal record expunged if:

  1. 1. You are at least 70 years old, and at least 10 years have passed without arrest following release from prison or supervision; OR
  2. You are seeking to expunge certain juvenile records and sufficient time has passed since discharge; OR
  3. Your offense was a summary offense with no arrests or conviction of any crimes for five years after the original conviction; OR
  4. No disposition of the original prosecution has been received or has occurred within 18 months of the date of arrest, no action is pending; OR
  5. The person whose record is being expunged has been dead for three or more years before expungement.

A Pennsylvania court will also generally order expungement when charges are dismissed. In addition, if you have participated in an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition ARDM, a program that allows for a faster sentencing and rehabilitative period, expungement is generally automatic under PA Rule 320. ARD programs are primarily used for DUIs, but are used in other situations. There are certain crimes for which expungement is not a possibility- even with participation in an ARD program. For example, a defendant placed on ARD for an offense involving sexual abuse of a minor, expungement is unavailable.

If you are eligible to have your records expunged, you may petition the court that had jurisdiction of your case for an order of expungement under the strict rules of 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 9122. The court will review the petition, consider any arguments, and—if granting the expungement—send over a certified order to the agency that is in charge of keeping your records.

For other articles on Pennsylvania expungement of criminal records, click on the following:

Eligibility for Sealing/Expunging Adult Criminal records in Pennsylvania

Process for Expunging Adult Criminal Records in Pennsylvania

Sealing/Expunging Juvenile Criminal Records in Pennsylvania

Process for Sealing/Expunging Juvenile Criminal Records in Pennsylvania

Do I Need an Attorney to Seal/Expunge My Criminal Record in Pennsylvania?

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