If you're facing a charge for sending a false alarm to a public safety agency in Pennsylvania or if you already have a conviction on your record, the consequences can be long-lasting. The penalties for a criminal conviction for sending a false alarm can range from a first-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony. While it may seem like a harmless prank, that conviction can affect your future job and educational prospects for a long time to come.
Fortunately, in Pennsylvania, we believe in second chances. If you qualify, you have several options to clean up your criminal record in our state. You may be able to have your arrest and court records sealed, limiting public access to them, through the state's new Clean Slate legislation or a petition to the court using Act 5.
Pennsylvania Statute for False Alarms to Agencies of Public Safety
You may face charges for “false alarms to agencies of public safety” in Pennsylvania if you knowingly transmit a false alarm of fire “or other emergency” to any organization, whether official or volunteer, that deals with emergencies involving “danger to life or property.”
The statute states:
A person commits an offense if he knowingly causes a false alarm of fire or other emergency to be transmitted to or within any organization, official, or volunteer, for dealing with emergencies involving danger to life or property.
18 Pa. Stat. § 4905 (2002).
Penalties for False Alarms to Agencies of Public Safety in Pennsylvania
The grading of a charge for sending false alarms to public safety agencies in Pennsylvania will vary depending on the facts and circumstances of your case. The charges can range from a first-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony.
- Felony Penalties for Transmitting a False Alarm to a Public Safety Agency If you transmit a false alarm of fire or another emergency “during a declared state of emergency and the false alarm causes the resources of the organization to be diverted from dealing with the declared state of emergency,” it is a third-degree felony. A third-degree felony is punishable by up to seven years in prison and a fine of $2,500 to $15,000 in Pennsylvania.
- Misdemeanor Penalties for Transmitting a False Alarm to a Public Safety Agency If you transmit the false alarm to a public safety agency and it's not during a declared state of emergency, it is a first-degree misdemeanor. In Pennsylvania, a first-degree misdemeanor conviction carries a penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine of $1,500 to $10,000.
Sealing Your Misdemeanor Record for Transmitting False Alarms to Public Safety Agencies Through Clean Slate
Unfortunately, you may not be able to seal your conviction for transmitting false alarms to public safety agencies through Clean Slate. The Pennsylvania legislature created the new law to allow more people to clean up their criminal records with minimal effort. Clean Slate allows the state to automatically seal the records of qualifying people after a five to ten-year waiting period. Before the legislation passed in 2019, only a fraction of qualified people actually sealed their records because they didn't know they qualified or because the process was too difficult to navigate.
You may qualify to automatically seal your arrest and court records through Clean Slate if:
- You have an ungraded offense or misdemeanor conviction punishable by two years or less in prison,
- You have a conviction for a third or second-degree misdemeanor,
- You don't have a conviction for transmitting false alarms to public safety agencies because the prosecutor dismissed the charges or the court found you not guilty.
A conviction for sending false alarms to public agencies in Pennsylvania is punishable by up to five years in prison. As a result, if you have a first-degree misdemeanor conviction for sending false alarms to public agencies in Pennsylvania, you may not be eligible to seal your record through Clean Slate automatically.
Sealing Your Record for Sending False Alarms to Public Agencies with an Act 5 Petition
Don't worry! Even if you can't automatically seal your misdemeanor conviction through Clean Slate, you may be eligible to petition the court to limit public access to your records through Act 5. You may qualify to use Act 5 legislation if:
- Your misdemeanor conviction is punishable by five years or less in prison,
- It's been ten years since you completed your sentence, including paying all your fines, and
- You don't have any other arrests or prosecutions, not just convictions, for crimes punishable by a year or more in prison.
If you have a first-degree misdemeanor conviction for “transmitting false alarms to public safety agencies” in Pennsylvania, the crime is punishable by a maximum of five years in prison. As a result, you may be able to use an Act 5 petition to seal your records if you meet all the other qualifications.
Sealing Felony Convictions in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania law doesn't allow you to seal a felony conviction for transmitting false alarms to public safety agencies. In fact, removing a felony conviction from your criminal record is quite difficult in Pennsylvania. In some cases, you can expunge your felony record, but only in limited circumstances, including:
- If you are 70 or older and it's been at least ten years since your criminal proceedings, or
- You receive a full pardon from the Governor of Pennsylvania.
Someone can also expunge the felony record of someone who has died if it's been at least three years since their death. If you have a felony record and want to explore your options for expunging your records, you should consult an experienced Pennsylvania expungement attorney.
Hire an Experienced Pennsylvania Sealing and Expungement Attorney
If you have a misdemeanor conviction for sending a false alarm to a public safety agency and would like to explore options for sealing your record, you need the help of a skilled Pennsylvania sealing attorney. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the experienced team at the Lento Law Firm have been guiding Pennsylvanians through the sealing and expungement process for years. Find out how they can help you too. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888.535.3686 to schedule your consultation, or contact them online.