Columbia County is a smaller county located in the heart of Pennsylvania. The county has over 66,000 residents. The Columbia County Court of Common Pleas, located in the city of Bloomsburg, PA, holds the legal authority over all legal matters within the county. When a person seeks to expunge former criminal records, they must make the request for this motion through this court.
Expungement in Columbia County
Expungement is only available to individuals with arrest or criminal records under certain circumstances in Pennsylvania. Before a person can petition the Columbia County Court, they must meet the state guidelines for expungement. Pennsylvania law permits expungement under the following scenarios:
- If a person has avoided conviction through participation in an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program, their records may be eligible for expungement upon the completion of the program.
- If a person is over the age of 70 and has not faced any criminal proceedings for at least ten (10) years, they may have their records expunged.
- If a person was convicted of a summary offense, served their sentence, and at least five (5) years have passed since their sentence was completed without facing any criminal proceedings, then they may be eligible for an expungement.
- If a person was arrested, but the criminal charges were, for example, dismissed by the Columbia County Court, or withdrawn by the Columbia County District Attorney's Office, these charges may be eligible for expungement; in some instances, however, a "redaction," also known as a "partial" expungement," may instead be the appropriate form of relief for charges that were dismissed or withdrawn.
Juvenile Expungement in Columbia County
When a person has records that exist from prior to their 18th birthday, they are considered "juvenile records" by the court. These records, contrary to popular belief, must be expunged just like adult records in Pennsylvania. They do not simply disappear. Pennsylvania allows for juvenile expungement under less strict circumstances than standard expungements. These circumstances include:
- If a person was convicted on a juvenile offense, their sentence has been completed, and at least five (5) years have passed without criminal proceedings, they may have their record expunged.
- If a person was arrested on juvenile charges, but the charges were later withdrawn or dismissed, they may be eligible for an expungement.
- If a person has come of age (over 18) and petitioned the court to expunge the records, the court may approve and expunge the records outright.
- If a person was placed under court supervision, the supervision has been completed, and at least six (6) months have passed without criminal proceedings, they may expunge their record.
Sealing Records in Columbia County
If a person has faced more serious criminal charges, Pennsylvania offers a record sealing process through the state's "Limited Access" laws. Through this process, a person can prevent their records from being accessed during background checks. Misdemeanor offenses of the 3rd degree, 2nd degree, and ungraded categories may be sealed under this process; although there are some limited exceptions. In order to be eligible, a person must have allowed at least ten (10) years to pass without facing any additional criminal proceedings.
Clearing Your Criminal Record in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Expungement Process in Bloomsburg
When expunging a criminal record in Columbia County, whether as an adult, juvenile, or after ARD is complete, or sealing a criminal record in Columbia County, the Columbia County Court of Common Pleas will be where the matter is addressed. The Columbia County Court of Common Pleas is located at 35 West Main Street, Bloomsburg, PA 17815
The person seeking the expungement or criminal record sealing in Columbia County will be the "petitioner" in the case, and the Columbia County District Attorney's Office will be the "respondent." The Columbia County District Attorney's Office is located in the Columbia County Courthouse; the address, as above, is 35 West Main Street, Bloomsburg, PA 17815.
The process for an expungement or criminal record sealing in Columbia County will proceed without issue in most instances if the Columbia 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 Bloomsburg, PA, will depend on the specifics of the Columbia 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 Columbia County as comprehensively as possible.
Because the Columbia 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 Columbia County Clerk of Courts requires one (1) original pleading. It is the petitioning party's responsibility to serve the Columbia County District Attorney's Office. In light of this procedural requirement, when filing, an extra copy of the pleading should be "time-stamped" and thereafter served upon the District Attorney's Office.
Finding the Best Attorney for Columbia County Expungement | Attorney for Columbia County Record Sealing
Outstanding criminal or arrest records, whether at the juvenile or adult level, can seriously interfere with a person's efforts to enter or continue with higher education, hold a job, or apply for a professional license. The process for requesting an expungement or criminal record sealing can be incredibly taxing and stressful. Oftentimes, courts will provide minimal guidance on how to file these motions, and will subject a person to convoluted paperwork and procedural steps. Errors in filing can result in delays and frustration. For these reasons, it may be best to have these filings handled by an experienced Pennsylvania 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 to file for an expungement or criminal record sealing in Bloomsburg or Columbia County, PA, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.