Delaware County is one of Philadelphia's neighboring counties, and one of Pennsylvania's most populous; Delaware County has over 560,000 residents, in spite of its smaller size. The county is served in all matters of law by the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas, located in Media, PA. The court oversees criminal and civil cases within the county and also handles any motions filed by residents of the county. The criminal branch of the court will handle all motions for criminal cases. This includes any motions for expungement or record sealing following a person's arrest or conviction.
Expungement in Delaware County, PA
The first step to obtaining an expungement is to determine if one is eligible for the expungement process. If a person has been been arrested and charged, but not convicted of a crime, Pennsylvania sets certain requirements before their record may be expunged.
In addition, some criminal charges allow a defendant who is a first-time offender to participate in a diversion program instead of having a criminal conviction. The diversion program must be completed before they may begin the expungement process. These are known as Accelerative Rehabilitative Disposition, or ARD, programs. ARD in Delaware County is often allowed for commonly-seen crimes such as DUI and must be completed before a defendant may begin the expungement process for their arrest and criminal charges.
Alternatively, if charges are, for example, dismissed by the Delaware County Court, or withdrawn by the Delaware County District Attorney's Office, such charges will generally be eligible for expungement; depending on the circumstances of the case, however, a "partial" expungement, also known as a "redaction," may be the appropriate form of relief for charges that were dismissed or withdrawn.
In cases where a person was convicted of a crime, there are limited instances where the charge or charges can be expunged. Such situations for expungement eligibility in Delaware County, and throughout Pennsylvania for that matter, include:
- The conviction was a summary offense, and five (5) years have passed since the conviction
- The person requesting expungement is 70 years old and at least ten (10) years have passed without criminal matters
Filing for expungement in Delaware County requires a fee paid to the county, along with whatever costs are associated with the ARD program when the case was resolved through ARD.
Record Sealing in Delaware County, PA
Pennsylvania has allowed, as of November 2016, record sealing options for defendants who have been convicted of crimes. The law is known as Pennsylvania's "Limited Access" law. Sealing records in Delaware County requires a motion filed for "limited access" to these records for criminal justice and reporting agencies. Typically the process requires a ten-year waiting period without any criminal proceedings after all requirements of the conviction have been met, including any probation/parole. Most 2nd degree, 3rd degree, and unclassified/ungraded misdemeanors may be granted limited access, provided that the ten (10) year period has been fulfilled. Certain egregious offenses are prohibited from sealing, such as those that require registry as a sex offender, however, a majority of lower level misdemeanor convictions are eligible.
Juvenile Expungements in Delaware County, PA
When a person faces juvenile charges, Pennsylvania also allows for expungement of these records under certain circumstances. The court in may be petitioned for juvenile expungement on the following grounds:
- A person is over the age of 18, and the court approves the petition to expunge the record.
- Supervision has concluded, and 6 months have passed without criminal proceedings.
- 5 years have passed since a juvenile delinquency conviction, and no criminal proceedings have occurred during this time period.
- The juvenile charges have been dismissed or withdrawn.
Clearing Your Criminal Record in Media, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Expungement Process in Media
When expunging a criminal record in Delaware County, whether as an adult, juvenile, or after ARD is complete, or sealing a criminal record in Delaware County, the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas will be where the matter is addressed. The Delaware County Court of Common Pleas is located at 201 W. Front Street, Media, PA 19063.
The person seeking the expungement or criminal record sealing in Delaware County will be the "petitioner" in the case, and the Delaware County District Attorney's Office will be the "respondent." The Delaware County District Attorney's Office is located in the Delaware County Court House; the address, as above, is 201 W. Front Street, Media, PA 19063.
The process for an expungement or criminal record sealing in Delaware County will proceed without issue in most instances if the Delaware 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 Media, PA, will depend on the specifics of the Delaware 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 Delaware County as comprehensively as possible.
Because the Delaware 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 Delaware County Clerk of Courts requires one (1) original pleading and six (6) copies; the petitioning party is responsible for serving the Delaware County District Attorney's Office.
Finding the Best Attorney for Delaware County Expungement | Attorney for Delaware County Record Sealing
Expunging or sealing a criminal record can be a confusing and frustrating process for a person to try to handle on their own. Courts will frequently assume that a person knows exactly what to do, and if a process is performed with a misstep, a defendant may need to start the process over again. Expunging or sealing a criminal record can be invaluable for persons seeking to avoid employment issues, persons pursuing or seeking to maintain a professional license, and for students who have gotten into legal trouble. Because of what is at potential stake, it may be helpful to retain the services of an experienced Pennsylvania criminal record expungement attorney to handle your expungement or record sealing case in Delaware County.
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 Media or Delaware County, PA, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.