If you live in Pennsylvania and have a criminal conviction, you may be wondering if it can be removed if restitution is still owed. In Pennsylvania, the legal processes of record sealing and expungement let you petition the court to clear your prior conviction if you are eligible. This article will explain record sealing and expungements. It will also talk about the processes and why expungements are sometimes denied. If you are thinking of getting an expungement for a criminal conviction, then make sure you talk to a criminal defense lawyer to see if you are eligible.
What Is an Expungement?
You can remove a criminal conviction from your public criminal record in Pennsylvania by going through the expungement or record sealing process. Historically, the state of Pennsylvania did not allow people to clear their criminal records. In 2015, the state of Pennsylvania first allowed its courts to limit public access to specific convictions for the first time through record sealing and expungements.
These laws were expanded in 2018, making it possible to seal first-degree misdemeanors and other low-level offenses. There is now an automated record sealing process that allows criminal convictions to be sealed without a petition after a certain amount of time has passed, depending on the crime. Record sealing is not available for specific criminal offenses that involve violence, guns, or sexual misconduct that can result in more than two years in state prison. Minor convictions can be expunged after five years have passed.
Pennsylvania's sealing and expungement laws have changed recently. If you have any questions about sealing or expunging a record, talk to a criminal defense lawyer. When you seal or expunge a record, it means that the conviction is hidden from the public. But some government agencies, like law enforcement or the prosecutor's office, can still see the conviction if they look in a private database.
What Are the Requirements for Sealing or Expungement Eligibility in Pennsylvania?
In Pennsylvania, your ability to receive an expungement or record sealing is limited. Not all criminal records can be erased. If you were charged with a crime but not convicted, your record could be expunged. This means the record is hidden from most people. Only records of minor crimes can usually be expunged. Crimes like murder or sexual assault usually cannot be expunged.
Convictions that can be expunged from your record include summary offenses like disorderly conduct and loitering, as long as you haven't been arrested for five years since the conviction. You may also be able to get a conviction expunged if you completed a special program, like the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program or the Small Amount of Marijuana program. If you are 70 years old or older and have been arrest-free for ten years since the conviction, any misdemeanor or felony conviction on your record is eligible for expungement.
Pennsylvania is one of the few states that offer “partial expungement.” Under partial expungement, any crimes that you were not convicted of that were part of a bigger overall case can be expunged. For example, if you were charged with five crimes but only convicted of one, the other four charges could be removed from your public record through expungement.
Are Expungements Available if Restitution is Still Owed?
If you still owe restitution on your case, then the court has not closed your case, and you are still under their jurisdiction. If you do not follow the rules about paying restitution, the judge can find you in violation of your terms of probation or another agreement you may have with the court.
If you have paid all your restitution, then you may be able to get your criminal record sealed or expunged. You will need to meet other requirements, such as not having any other criminal charges. It is possible to seek an expungement if restitution is paid, but other court costs are not due to an amendment to the law in 2020. To best understand what you can and can't do regarding sealing or expunging your criminal conviction, make sure you seek the help of an experienced attorney.
How an Experienced Attorney Can Help
There are specific rules in Pennsylvania about pardons, record sealing, and expungement. Each state has its own laws that determine how the process works and who is eligible to have a criminal conviction hidden from the public.
You should have a professional look at your situation to see what options are available to clear your criminal record from the public view. This includes getting a pardon, sealing, or expunging your record. Experienced attorneys can help you avoid making common mistakes and get the best results for your case.
You can choose how to approach getting your criminal conviction removed from public view, but you usually only get one chance. You need to make the request to the right court under the correct circumstances that allow eligibility. Make sure you approach your sealing or expungement the right way. If you have legal questions, then call us at the Lento Law firm today so we can help!
Why Hiring Lento Law Firm is the Right Choice
If you are looking to expunge a prior conviction from your criminal record in Pennsylvania, then having an experienced expungement attorney on your side can help you avoid the mistakes that many make when applying to remove a conviction. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are eligible for expungement or record sealing before you attempt to have the court do so. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to learn why hiring us is the right choice to help you prepare and file your application for an expungement in Pennsylvania. You can also contact us online.