When a person has been convicted of a crime, arrested, or been a part of a criminal court proceeding they will have a record of the event that occurred in the court system. Pennsylvania law allows a person to clear their name after certain requirements have been passed. This process is known as expungement.
Expungements in Pennsylvania
There are certain requirements an individual must fulfill in order to be eligible for an expungement. These are different for adults and juveniles.
Adults who have been involved in a criminal situation have the following requirements for an expungement eligibility:
- They are at least 70 years old and have not been involved in any criminal matters for at least 10 years
- They were convicted of a summary offense, and at least 5 years have passed without additional criminal matters.
- They were offered a chance to participate in an Accelerative Rehabilitative Disposition program or ARD, and are not facing additional criminal matters.
- They were found "not guilty" at a trial.
- They had their charges were dismissed or withdrawn. They may expunge these charges through a "redaction."
If a juvenile was involved in a criminal incident, they may be able to expunge their juvenile record if:
- A juvenile was convicted on a juvenile delinquency charge, has completed their assigned sentencing, and 5 years have passed without further incident.
- A juvenile was placed under court supervision, and at least 6 months have passed without further incident.
- A juvenile was placed under arrest for a juvenile charge, but the charge was dismissed, and the juvenile does not have additional charges
- A juvenile has come of age (18) and has been able to convince the court to grant the expungement.
Do I Need an Attorney to Handle my Expungement?
While it may not be necessary to have an attorney conduct a filing for an expungement for you, it is often a preferable route to doing it yourself. Due to the large volume of cases, sometimes expungement paperwork can move very slowly through the Pennsylvania Court System. On top of this, filings that are done incorrectly will often be sent back to the original defendant, and the process may need to start from the beginning. This can be frustrating and discouraging. You only want to move on with your life.
An attorney conducting your expungement filing for you can make sure that the paperwork moves smoothly through the court. In addition, an experienced attorney handles expungements for individuals regularly, so they are much more familiar with this process than the average individual. An expungement filing done correctly the first time is a peace of mind that an attorney can grant.