Sealing or Expunging Juvenile Criminal Records in Pennsylvania
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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021
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Sealing OR expunging juvenile records are two different things in Pennsylvania. Sealing a record means denying the public access to it. Expunging a record means effectively denying its existence as though it never existed. Expungement is obviously more secure. Sealing still leaves access available to many official uses.
In Pennsylvania, it is possible to petition for the court to expunge your juvenile records under several different circumstances:
- A complaint is filed but not substantiated, OR charges are dismissed by the court. In such cases, expungement can be automatically granted ;
- Six months have elapsed since the final discharge of the subject of the criminal record, and no proceedings against that person are pending. Unless there is a reason for the court to deny the expungement, it will be granted within 30 days.
- Five (5) years or more since the final discharge/release from: commitment, probation, or any other form of supervision, disposition or referral. Since discharge, it is important not to have been arraigned or convicted of any other felony OR misdemeanor, without pending proceedings.
- You have reached the age of 18, even if five years have not passed since the end of the final discharge of the case. However, expungement in such situations is not guaranteed. In determining if expungement is appropriate, the court will consider:
- Type(s) of offense(s);
- Individual’s age, history of employment, criminal activity, and drug or alcohol problems;
- Adverse consequences the individual has or may suffer from the record being open to the public.
- Whether record retention is required for protecting the public safety;
- Whether notice to the prosecuting attorney was properly given of the expungement request (if not, no expungements are allowed);
- Whether the child is a dependent, as all records of children who are adjudicated dependent may be expunged by court order after the child is 21 years old or older.
Even though a court may favor expungement for very strong reasons, in all these cases, a motion must be precisely filed, and legal procedures must be properly followed to comply with the Commonwealth’s statutory requirements for expungement. There is no automatic expungement in Pennsylvania.
For other articles on Pennsylvania expungement of criminal records, click on the following: