Can Non-Citizens Have Convictions Expunged in Pennsylvania?

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Apr 30, 2023 | 0 Comments

Getting convicted of a crime as a non-citizen can be a scary experience. In addition to all of the consequences that come with a criminal case, non-citizens must also have to worry about the threat of deportation. Because being convicted of a crime can have serious negative immigration consequences, you may wonder if an expungement is right for you. Does a non-citizen have the right or ability to file for an expungement in Pennsylvania?

Citizenship and Expungement

The Pennsylvania statutes that govern expungement list various factors that will qualify a person to seek an expungement. What the law does not require is for the person applying for expungement to be a citizen. Non-citizens with convictions that qualify for expungement can apply just like any citizen.

However, while expungement may completely clear a citizen's criminal record, the arrests, and convictions of a non-citizen can still be used against them by an immigration court even if the conviction was expunged. Any arrest or conviction can be used as proof that the non-citizen violated the terms of their visa.

In some cases, an expungement may cause more problems for the non-citizen. For example, an immigration judge may require proof from the state court that a non-citizen's conviction was resolved in a certain way. If the conviction has been expunged, that proof may not be available.

How Can You Qualify For An Expungement?

Expungement of a person's criminal record in Pennsylvania is only possible in certain circumstances. If the offense was minor (known as a summary offense) and it has been at least five years since your last arrest, expungement may be possible. People over the age of 70 who have not committed any crimes in the past decade might qualify for expungement. Other types of offenses, like underage drinking charges, can be expunged once the person turns 21. The state also allows first-time offenders who complete a rehabilitation program to expunge their convictions.

Many types of offenses can qualify for expungement; however, certain types of crimes are ineligible. For example, sex crimes against minors, rape, sexual assault, and similar charges cannot be expunged no matter what.

If you meet one of the conditions for expungement in the statute, the process will require working with an attorney to complete your petition and filing it in the county of your arrest. You will have to pay filing fees and prepare a proposed order. The county's District Attorney's office will be served with your petition and will have a chance to file a response. A judge will consider all of the arguments and decide to grant or deny the expungement.

Get Help With Expungements in Pennsylvania

Qualifying for expungement is not a guarantee that you will receive it. The expungement process can be complicated, especially if you are not a citizen. Protect your rights and your future by speaking with experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm about your legal options. Call 888-535-3686 today to learn more.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the Lento Law Firm today! Criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

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