If you're facing a charge for defrauding secured creditors, or if you've already got a conviction on your record, you may be concerned about the possible consequences to your future. A criminal record, particularly one involving fraud, can impact your educational and career prospects and affect your personal reputation.
Expungement is probably the most thorough method when you're cleaning up your record. If granted, the court will order state and law enforcement agencies to destroy your arrest and court records. However, it isn't easy to obtain an expungement under Pennsylvania law. Those with misdemeanor and felony convictions can only expunge their records in very limited circumstances.
But even if you can't expunge your record, you may qualify to limit public access to them through sealing. The state may automatically seal your record under Pennsylvania's Clean Slate legislation. Or, if you don't qualify for automatic sealing, you may qualify to petition the court to seal your arrest and court records through Pennsylvania's Act 5.
Pennsylvania Statute for Defrauding Secured Creditors
You may face charges of defrauding secured creditors if you destroy, remove, conceal, transfer, or encumber property subject to a security interest or after a levy on the property if you intend to hinder enforcement of the interest. The statute states:
A person commits a misdemeanor of the second degree if he destroys, removes, conceals, encumbers, transfers, or otherwise deals with property subject to a security interest or after the levy has been made thereon with intent to hinder enforcement of such interest.
18 Pa. Stat. § 4110. A “security interest” is an enforceable legal claim on collateral pledged for something such as a loan. A “levy” is a legal seizure of that property to pay off a debt. So, if you interfere with or transfer property subject to a security interest or after it's been levied to pay a debt, with the intent of hindering that enforcement, you could face charges of defrauding secured creditors.
Penalties for Defrauding Secured Creditors in Pennsylvania
Typically, defrauding secured creditors is a second-degree misdemeanor in Pennsylvania. A conviction for a second-degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to two years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Sealing Your Record for Defrauding Secured Creditors Through Clean Slate
In 2019, the people of Pennsylvania gained some new options for cleaning up their criminal records. The legislature passed groundbreaking new legislation that offers people more accessible ways to seal their criminal records. The new “Clean Slate” legislation will automatically seal many Pennsylvanians' criminal and arrest records after five to ten years. It works automatically because before 2019, only a fraction of people eligible for record sealing actually applied. People may have failed to petition the court to seal their records because they didn't know they were eligible or because the process was too overwhelming.
You may qualify to have your record automatically sealed under Clean Slate if:
- Your conviction is for a summary offense, a grading below a misdemeanor,
- Your conviction is for a second-degree or third-degree misdemeanor,
- Your conviction is for an ungraded misdemeanor punishable by two years or less in prison,
- You don't have a conviction because the judge found you not guilty or because the state dismissed the charges against you.
If you have a conviction for a second-degree misdemeanor for defrauding secured creditors, you may qualify to seal your record under Clean Slate. But you should consult an experienced Pennsylvania sealing and expungement lawyer to discuss all your options.
Sealing Your Record for Defrauding Secured Creditors with an Act 5 Petition
If you don't qualify for automatic sealing through Clean Slate, you may still be able to petition the court to limit public access to your records through Act 5. Act 5 does not have an automatic sealing process, but it does apply to a wider range of convictions. Once you're eligible, you'll need to petition the court for the sealing.
To qualify for Act 5 sealing, you must:
- Wait ten years after you complete your sentence and pay all your fines,
- Have only a misdemeanor or ungraded conviction punishable by five years or less incarceration,
- Have no additional arrests or prosecutions during your ten-year waiting period that's punishable by a year or more in jail.
Even if your misdemeanor conviction meets the qualifications for Act 5 sealing, some first-degree misdemeanors are not eligible for record sealing under any option, including:
- An offense involving danger to another person, such as assault,
- An offense against your family such as domestic violence, bigamy, incest, or child endangerment,
- An offense involving firearms,
- An offense involving dangerous weapons, and
- An offense involving the corruption of a minor, including truancy or statutory rape.
If your conviction for defrauding secured creditors doesn't qualify for automatic sealing under Clean Slate, you may qualify to petition the court for sealing under Act 5.
Sealing Felony Records in Pennsylvania
Defrauding secured creditors is a misdemeanor in Pennsylvania, so sealing isn't typically a problem unless you have additional convictions. If you have a felony conviction, you can't typically seal it under Pennsylvania law. You will have limited options to clean up a felony record, although you can expunge a felony under very limited circumstances. You may be able to expunge a felony if:
- You receive a pardon from the governor. You can then apply for an expungement.
- You are 70 or older, and it's been at least ten years since your criminal proceedings, or
- The defendant has been dead for at least three years.
An experienced expungement attorney can tell you more about your options for cleaning up a felony record in Pennsylvania.
Hire an Experienced Pennsylvania Sealing Attorney
Determining the best option for cleaning up your misdemeanor record for defrauding secured creditors can be overwhelming, but you don't have to figure this process out alone. An experienced Pennsylvania sealing attorney is your best option to clean up your record as efficiently as possible. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his skilled team at the Lento Law Firm have helped many Pennsylvanians seal and expunge their arrest and criminal records over the years. See what they can do for you. Call the Lento Law Firm at 888.535.3686 to schedule a consultation, or contact them online today.