Centre County is appropriately named, as it is located directly in the center of the state of Pennsylvania. The county has a collective of over 160,000 residents within its townships and cities, and is also the site of the main campus of Penn State. The county is served in all matters of the law by the Centre County Court of Common Pleas. The court is located in the county seat of Bellefonte, PA. When a person seeks to expunge or seal criminal or arrest records within the county, they must pursue this through the court.
Centre County Expungements
When a person seeks an expungement within Centre County, they must first determine whether or not they meet the eligibility requirements set by Pennsylvania state law. Pennsylvania imposes strict requirements in determining eligibility for expungements. A person is eligible for an expungement under the following circumstances:
- Individuals who faced criminal charges and later participated in an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program to avoid a conviction will be eligible for an expungement of their arrest record once the ARD program is completed.
- An individual over the age 70 will be eligible for an expungement of prior records once at least ten (10) years have passed without any criminal proceedings being charged against them.
- Individuals convicted of a summary offense are eligible for an expungement once five (5) years have passed since their sentence was completed and they have not faced any criminal proceedings since that time.
- If a person was arrested, but the criminal charges were, for example, dismissed by the Centre County Court, or withdrawn by the Centre County District Attorney's Office, these charges may be eligible for expungement; depending on the specific circumstances of the case, dismissed or withdrawn charges may alternatively be eligible for a "redaction," also known as a "partial" expungement.
Centre County Record Sealing
Pennsylvania law also offers the opportunity for misdemeanor records to be expunged. This is done under the "Limited Access" law, which restricts a person's prior records from being accessed during background checks. While certain misdemeanor crimes are eligible for expungement under this process, not all are included. Only 2nd degree, 3rd degree, and ungraded misdemeanor charges may be expunged through this method, and some additional exceptions may also apply. In addition, individuals seeking expungements must have had ten (10) years pass without any criminal proceedings against them.
Centre County Juvenile Expungements
Criminal or arrest records that exist prior to a person's 18th birthday are known as juvenile records. There is a common misconception that these records will simply disappear once a person turns 18. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and as a result, these records can interfere with a person's goals long after their 18th birthday if they are not expunged. Juvenile records may be eligible for expungement if:
- A person has been convicted on juvenile delinquency charges, their sentence has been served, and five (5) years has passed since without any criminal proceedings.
- A person was placed under court supervision, the supervision has concluded, and the person has not faced any criminal proceedings for at least six (6) months.
- A person faced juvenile criminal charges, but the charges were withdrawn or dismissed.
- A person is over the age of 18, and the court approves their petition for expungement.
Clearing Your Criminal Record in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Expungement Process in Bellefonte
When expunging a criminal record in Centre County, PA, whether as an adult, juvenile, or after ARD is complete, or sealing a criminal record in Carbon County, the Centre County Court of Common Pleas will be where the matter is addressed. The Centre County Court of Common Pleas is located at 102 South Allegheny Street, Bellefonte, PA 16823.
The person seeking the expungement or criminal record sealing in Centre County will be the "petitioner" in the case, and the Centre County District Attorney's Office will be the "respondent." The Centre County District Attorney's Office is located in the Centre County Courthouse; the District Attorney's Office is 102 S Allegheny St, #404, Bellefonte, PA 16823.
The process for an expungement or criminal record sealing in Carbon County will proceed without issue in most instances if the Centre County District Attorney's Office does not object to the expungement petition or limited access petition pursuant to Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure. The specific Pennsylvania expungement or limited access law which will apply to the request for relief filed in Bellefonte, PA, will depend on the specifics of the Centre County criminal case itself: either Pa.R.Crim.P. 490 for summary offense expungements; Pa.R.Crim.P. 790 for standard criminal record expungements; Pa.R.Crim.P. 791 and 18 Pa.C.S. § 9122.1 in cases involving record sealing; or 18 Pa.C.S. § 9123 in cases involving juvenile records. In some instances, requesting relief based upon a combination of these Rules is sometimes required to clear a Pennsylvania criminal record in Centre County as comprehensively as possible.
Because the Centre County Court will most often decide a request for an expungement or record sealing "on the pleadings," meaning that judgment will be made on a proper petition, order, and related pleadings, persons seeking to clear their record per Pennsylvania law must make sure that their request is properly handled in all respects, and to an exacting degree. In addition, the Centre County Clerk of Courts requires one (1) original pleading unlike most Pennsylvania counties. Although the Clerk of Courts will serve the District Attorney's Office, it is good practice in Centre County for the petitioning party to also serve the District Attorney's Office.
Finding the Best Attorney for Centre County Expungement | Attorney for Centre County Record Sealing
Criminal records or arrest records either at the juvenile or adult level can create employment issues for people, and can also seriously interfere in a person's ability to enter or continue with higher education or hold a professional license. The expungement process can be confusing and daunting for individuals not well-versed in matters of the law. Many times the courts are of limited assistance and will expect a person to know exactly what they are doing throughout the entire process. If there are any missteps in the process, a person may be required to start from the beginning, which can cause delays when time may be of the essence. For this reason, expungements and criminal record sealing may be best left to an experienced Pennsylvania criminal record expungement attorney.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento has a proven record of success helping clients with clearing their records throughout Pennsylvania, and as importantly, he personally handles all clients' expungements and record sealings from start to finish. If you or a loved one is seeking expungement or criminal record sealing in Bellefonte or Centre County, PA, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.