Berks County, Pennsylvania, is one of Pennsylvania's Southeastern counties, in close proximity to both Lancaster and Philadelphia counties. The county is home to over 415,000 residents. All matters of the law within the county answer to the authority of the Berks County Court of Common Pleas, located in the county seat of Reading, PA. The court hears all matters of civil and criminal law, including any motions that are filed after a criminal case's conclusion, such as those for expungement or record sealing.
Berks County Expungement Process
When a defendant makes a request for an expungement, certain state requirements must be fulfilled before the court will grant it. Criminal and arrest records may be expunged under Pennsylvania law, but only under certain circumstances. These circumstances include the following:
- If a defendant has been convicted of a summary offense, the record may be expunged after a five (5) year period, so long as no criminal charges have been pending since.
- Records may be eligible for expungement once a person has reached the age of 70 and has not accrued any criminal proceedings for the past ten (10) years.
- At times, courts may offer defendants the option to pursue an Accelerative Rehabilitative Disposition program instead of facing a criminal conviction. These programs must be fulfilled before a defendant may request a motion for expungement.
- If a person was arrested, but the criminal charges were, for example, dismissed by the Berks County Court, or withdrawn by the Berks County District Attorney's Office, these charges will be eligible for expungement; depending on the circumstances of the case, charges that were dismissed or withdrawn may be instead eligible for a "partial" expungement, also known as a "redaction."
Berks County Record Sealing
Pennsylvania law also offers defendants with certain convictions an opportunity to clear their records after certain requirements have been fulfilled. Under Pennsylvania's "Limited Access" motion, defendants with misdemeanor convictions may be eligible to have those criminal records sealed. The Limited Access law effectively seals the records by preventing public access to these records. In order to be eligible for this process, ten (10) years must have passed since the completion of the sentence and parole without any criminal proceedings against the defendant. Only unclassified/ungraded, 2nd-degree and 3rd-degree misdemeanors are eligible for this motion; with limited exceptions.
Berks County Juvenile Expungements
When a person faces criminal charges under the age of 18, these charges are classified as juvenile charges. While many believe that juvenile records will simply vanish once a person turns 18, the reality of the situation is that these records must be expunged in the same way that adult records must be. Pennsylvania law is slightly more lenient on what requirements are necessary for expunging a juvenile record in comparison to what is necessary to expunge an adult record. The following requirements allow for the expungement of juvenile records:
- A person may file for expungement of a juvenile record following their 18th birthday, however, the court must approve of the expungement.
- If a person was convicted of a juvenile delinquency, the record may be eligible for expungement once five (5) years have passed since, and there have been no criminal proceedings.
- If a juvenile was placed under supervision, the record may be eligible for expungement once the supervision has concluded and six (6) months have passed without any criminal proceedings.
- If juvenile charges were brought against a defendant, but later dismissed, those records may be eligible for expungement.
Clearing Your Criminal Record in Reading, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Expungement Process in Reading
When expunging a record in Berks County, whether as an adult, juvenile, or after ARD is complete, or sealing a record in Berks County, the Berks County Court of Common Pleas will be where the matter is addressed. The Berks County Court of Common Pleas is located at 633 Court Street, Reading, PA 19601.
The person seeking the expungement or record sealing in Berks County will be the "petitioner" in the case, and the Berks County District Attorney's Office will be the "respondent." The Berks County District Attorney's Office is also located at 633 Court St, Reading, PA 19601.
The process for an expungement or record sealing in Berks County will proceed without issue in most instances if the Berks County District Attorney's Office does not object to the expungement petition or limited access petition pursuant to Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure. The specific Pennsylvania expungement or limited access law which will apply to the request for relief filed in Reading, PA, will depend on the specifics of the Berks County criminal case itself: either Pa.R.Crim.P. 490 for summary offense expungements; Pa.R.Crim.P. 790 for standard criminal record expungements; Pa.R.Crim.P. 791 and 18 Pa.C.S. § 9122.1 in cases involving criminal record sealing; or 18 Pa.C.S. § 9123 in cases involving juvenile records. In some instances, requesting relief based upon a combination of these Rules is sometimes required to clear a Pennsylvania criminal record in Berks County as comprehensively as possible.
Because the Berks County Court will most often decide a request for an expungement or record sealing "on the pleadings," meaning that judgment will be made on a proper petition, order, and related pleadings, persons seeking to clear their record per Pennsylvania law must make sure that their request is properly handled in all respects, and to an exacting degree. In addition, Berks County expungement requirements include an original pleading and four (4) copies.
Finding the Best Attorney for Berks County Expungement | Attorney for Berks County Record Sealing
Obtaining expungements and sealing records can be incredibly important legal actions for students seeking to enter or continue with their higher education, people wanting to avoid employment issues, people seeking to obtain a professional license for future employment. Requesting expungement or record sealing in Berks County can be an intimidating and confusing process. If there are any missteps done in the filing, starting the process over can be frustrating, and may even lead to further delays. For these reasons, it may be in a person's best interest to have the process taken care of by an experienced Pennsylvania criminal record expungement attorney.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento has a proven record of success helping clients with clearing their records throughout Pennsylvania, and as importantly, he personally handles all clients' expungements and record sealings from start to finish. If you or a loved one is seeking an expungement or criminal record sealing in Reading or Berks County, PA, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.