If you have a conviction for resisting arrest or law enforcement in Pennsylvania, you may have already discovered that a criminal record can follow you long beyond a sentence in jail or a fine. It can affect your future education and career and prevent you from obtaining professional licenses, working in law enforcement, or getting a security clearance. Sometimes, it can even prevent you from obtaining a mortgage, a car loan, or renting an apartment. Fortunately, Pennsylvania is a state that believes in second chances, and the law allows several options to clean up your record.
While expunging your record is typically the most thorough way to destroy your criminal record, Pennsylvania law doesn't allow many people to expunge their records with even a misdemeanor conviction. But you may be able to seal your records, limiting public access, through Pennsylvania's Clean Slate or Act 5 legislation.
Pennsylvania Statute for Resisting Arrest or Other Law Enforcement
In Pennsylvania, law enforcement officers take resisting arrest seriously. That's why you can face criminal charges if you do so. You can face resisting arrest charges if you prevent a police officer or other law enforcement from doing their job and create a “substantial risk of bodily injury” to anyone while doing so, and the police have to use “substantial force” to overcome your resistance. The law states:
A person commits a misdemeanor of the second degree if, with the intent of preventing a public servant from effecting a lawful arrest or discharging any other duty, the person creates a substantial risk of bodily injury to the public servant or anyone else, or employs means justifying or requiring substantial force to overcome the resistance.
18 Pa. C.S. § 5104 (1973).
Penalties for Resisting Arrest or Law Enforcement in Pennsylvania
Resisting arrest or law enforcement is typically a second-degree misdemeanor. While a “misdemeanor” may seem like a minor charge, you can face serious time in prison. 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 Criminal Record for Resisting Arrest or Law Enforcement Through Clean Slate
Until recently, most people who qualified to seal their criminal arrest or court records never did so. That's because the court process could be intimidating and cumbersome. In many cases, people didn't even know that they qualified to seal their records. So, in 2019, the Pennsylvania legislature passed a new law to make record sealing more accessible. If you qualify, the state will now automatically seal your record after five to ten years, depending on your record.
You may qualify for automatic sealing of your record if:
- You don't have a conviction because the charges were dismissed or a court found you not guilty,
- Your conviction is for a summary offense, which is a grade below a misdemeanor,
- Your conviction is for a second or third-degree misdemeanor, or
- Your conviction is for a misdemeanor punishable by no more than two years in prison.
If you have a conviction for a second-degree misdemeanor for resisting arrest in Pennsylvania, you may qualify to have your record automatically sealed under Clean Slate. However, an experienced Pennsylvania sealing attorney can give you the best option for your case.
Sealing Your Criminal Record for Resisting Arrest or Law Enforcement With an Act 5 Petition
Even if you don't qualify for Clean Slate's automatic sealing, you may still be eligible under Act 5. Act 5 sealing isn't automatic; you must petition the court to limit public access to your records. However, Act 5 applies to a wider range of convictions, allowing more people to seal their records.
You may qualify for Act 5 sealing if:
- You wait a minimum of ten years after paying any court-ordered restitution and completing your sentence,
- You have a misdemeanor conviction punishable by no more than five years in prison, and
- Don't have any other prosecutions or arrests punishable by a year or more in prison.
However, some misdemeanor convictions aren't eligible for sealing under either Clean Slate or Act 5. Convictions you can't seal include:
- Dangerous offenses like assault,
- Convictions for domestic violence, child endangerment, or bigamy,
- Convictions for firearms offenses,
- A conviction involving a dangerous weapon,
- Convictions involving corruption of a minor, like truancy or statutory rape.
If you have a first-degree misdemeanor conviction or an ungraded conviction punishable by no more than five years in prison, you may qualify to seal your record under Act 5. However, you should consult an experienced Pennsylvania sealing attorney to explore your options.
Sealing a Felony Record in Pennsylvania
Felony convictions are not eligible for either Act 5 or Clean Slate sealing in Pennsylvania. In very limited circumstances, you may be able to expunge a felony or a misdemeanor conviction, but only if:
- You are at least 70, and it's been a minimum of ten years since your criminal proceedings,
- You receive a full pardon from the governor, or
- The subject of the criminal record has been dead for at least three years.
If you have a felony or misdemeanor conviction and want to explore your options for expunging a conviction, you should speak to a skilled Pennsylvania sealing and expungement attorney.
Hire an Experienced Pennsylvania Sealing and Expungement Attorney
Trying to figure out the best way to clean up your record for resisting arrest or law enforcement in Pennsylvania can be arduous. But an experienced sealing and expungement attorney like Joseph D. Lento can help you find the best option for your situation. Attorney Lento and the skilled team at the Lento Law Firm have been helping the people of Pennsylvania clean up their criminal records through sealing and expungement for years. Find out how they can help you too. Give the Lento Law Firm a call today at 888.535.3686 to schedule your consultation, or contact them online.