You may have heard that a criminal conviction means you're automatically ineligible for financial aid and that colleges won't consider you for admission. While that is no longer completely true, it is, of course, better not to have a criminal conviction on your record than it is to have one. For one, it allows you to state that you have not been convicted of a crime when applying to the school. In addition, to the extent that financial aid may not be available to those with criminal convictions, having your record expunged can open up loans, grants, and scholarships that might not otherwise be available.
Expungement in Pennsylvania
It is possible to expunge certain types of criminal records in Pennsylvania. It's not available for every type of crime, however. These are the types of crimes where Pennsylvania law allows expungement:
- Cases that were resolved through an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program (except for a sex crime committed against a minor);
- If you're over 21 and were convicted of certain alcohol-related offenses when you were 18 or older, and you've served your sentence;
- If you were arrested but not convicted, your case wasn't disposed of within 18 months, and there are no charges pending against you;
- Certain minor offenses that happened at least five years ago;
- Certain offenses committed as a juvenile.
Plan Ahead if You Want to Expunge Your Record
It can take anywhere from about four to six months to complete the expungement request process in Pennsylvania. If you're planning on applying for college and student financial aid in the near future, it makes sense to start the expungement process as soon as possible. Different courts process these applications at different speeds, and while it's possible to ask that courts move quickly on an application, resources are limited, and it's far better to plan ahead.
Some Good News
Many of the restrictions that prevented those with criminal convictions from receiving federal student loans have recently been reduced or eliminated completely. In addition, you may be eligible for federal financial aid even if you're on parole or living in a “halfway house,” though the conditions of your parole might affect your ability to fulfill requirements for certain work-study grants. And past drug convictions no longer affect your eligibility for federal student financial aid.
There Are Other Good Reasons for Expungement
Even if you may be eligible for financial aid, there are many other reasons to request expungement of your criminal records if you're able to. Your ability to get a job in the future, rent or buy a place to live, and in some cases, enjoy a number of other advantages of citizenship can all be improved if your criminal records are expunged.
Joseph D. Lento Can Help You Face Life With a Clean Record
Joseph D. Lento has helped people all across Pennsylvania expunge their criminal records. He and the Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team understand how important it can be to face your future with a clean slate, and they can help you understand whether you are eligible for expungement and, if so, how they can help you make that happen.
If you'd like to explore starting fresh by expunging your criminal records, call Joseph D. Lento today at 888.535.3686, or reach out to the Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team through this online link to set up a confidential consultation. We are here to listen and to help!