Expungement of Criminal Records
Pennsylvania has enacted legislation for the expungement of old misdemeanor convictions. Expungement means the removal of criminal information so that there is no trace or indication of the misdemeanor convictions, but with some exceptions. About one in three persons in Pennsylvania have criminal records that severely limit employment opportunities and even prevent their ability to obtain employment. Not all criminal convictions may be expunged, but perhaps you are eligible.
The Law of Patrick Flanigan offers free initial consultation to assess your circumstances and discuss whether expungement or the sealing of criminal records is available to you. Generally, an expungement petition is filed in the county where the criminal charge was prosecuted and the granting or denial of the expungement petition is within the discretion of the trial court. Some of the factors to be considered by the court are as follows:
1. Strength of the Commonwealth’s case against you and the reasons to retain the arrest record.
2. Your age, employment history, criminal record, and the amount of time that has elapsed between the last arrest and the filing of the expungement petition.
3. Consideration of the adverse consequences against you, if the expungement petition is denied.
Expungement of criminal charges may be granted for –
- Conviction for underage drinking charges if you are now over 21 years of age
- Criminal charges when disposition is a non-conviction.
- Conviction for summary offense if free of arrest or prosecution for five years.
If an expungement petition is successful, then the court’s criminal file and law enforcement records are destroyed and the case is removed from the databases of the Pennsylvania State Police, Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
But even when the Commonwealth and federal databases expunged, there are still commercial and private businesses that may still have the criminal record in databases that are provided to your employers and potential employers that impact your changes of a job.
Therefore, even a successful expungement of the government records may require lawsuits against third-party private businesses, who continue to supply inaccurate criminal record information that violate provisions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1681e(b) and 1681k.