Late last year, the Pennsylvania Crime Code was amended to include a new provision that the media labels the “Clean Slate” law. This law specifically addresses an issue that has had a profound impact on the lives of criminal offenders: unfair hardship and limited access in post-conviction life. With a criminal record, securing employment, finding housing, receiving government benefits, and even going to school is a challenge. The clean slate law is intended to remedy this issue by allowing eligible criminal, summary, and non-conviction records to be sealed. Thus, the criminal records of those who've acquired low-level convictions for nonviolent crimes will be shielded from the general public's view.
As the first piece of legislation of its kind to pass in the country, one could imply that the clean slate law is a sign that many people are ready for criminal justice reform on a larger scale. Astoundingly, the law met little opposition since its conception, as it is expected to reduce recidivism, and save the Commonwealth money through administrative costs that accumulate in the processing of re-offenders through the system.
While all of this is great news, there's a common misperception about how “clean” people's criminal records become under the new law. will only be sealed, not expunged. These terms are not synonymous. When a record is sealed, it's removed from public view, when a record is expunged, it's completely destroyed or wiped clean. This is why the clean slate law has been deemed the new limited access law.
A couple of years back, Pennsylvania amended the Crime Code to include limited access. This legislation claims that an individual who has been “free of arrest or prosecution following conviction, confinement or supervision, whichever is later, for a period of 10 years,” has the right to petition for a limited access order. If this order is granted by the court, the distribution of arrest and conviction information to the public - including employers - will be ceased. Law enforcement is the only entity that would have access to an offender's criminal record, much like the clean slate law.
A notable difference between the clean slate law and limited access law is that limited access is automatic. It technically is effective immediately once the conditions of a sentence have been completed by a convicted person. Another difference is that a limited access order can be annulled. Once an offender reoffends after a limited access order is enforced, the court will take away the order upon the request of a prosecutor.
The clean slate law went into effect on June 28. The Pennsylvania Police Department has begun sealing the first of 30 million criminal records for offenders who qualify.
Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney
A huge part of being adequately prepared for your case entails seeking the help of an experienced attorney. A legal professional who defends criminal defense cases will know the ins and outs of the process and can get you on a that ideally fits your needs. Attorney Joseph D. Lento brings a wealth of experience to the table, as he's successfully handled numerous cases just like yours. But most importantly, his familiarity with the overall process can be a source of comfort for you in one of the most stressful times of your life. For more information about his representation or how he can help you, contact him online or by phone today at 215-535-5353 or 888-535-3686.