Erie County is located on the northwestern border of Pennsylvania, sharing borders with the state of Ohio and Lake Erie, where it receives its namesake. The County has over 278,000 residents within its townships. The county is served in matters of law by the Erie County Court of Common Pleas, located in the county seat of Erie, PA. The court is responsible for resolving all legal disputes, as well as holding all records within the county. A person seeking to clear their name of any prior arrest or criminal records must petition this court for the appropriate form of relief.
Expungement in Erie County
When a person seeks to expunge their Erie County records, they must first determine whether or not the eligibility requirements established by the state of Pennsylvania have been met. Pennsylvania law only provides certain avenues for persons to expunge their records. The eligibility requirements include:
- A person is over the age of 70, and over ten (10) years have passed without any addition criminal charges.
- A person was offered the chance to avoid criminal conviction by participating in an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program, and the program has been completed.
- A person was convicted on a summary offense, they have served their sentence fully, and at least five (5) years have passed without them facing any criminal proceedings.
Erie County Record Sealing
Pennsylvania allows defendants who have faced higher level criminal charges to go through a record sealing process, after meeting certain requirements. The process relies on Pennsylvania's "Limited Access" laws, which prevent records from being viewed under certain circumstances. Only 2nd degree, 3rd degree, or ungraded misdemeanor records are eligible for expungement, and some exceptions apply. In addition, a person must have completed their sentencing (if necessary) and gone at least ten (10) years without any criminal proceedings against them in order to be eligible.
Juvenile Records in Erie County
At times, individuals at a younger age face criminal charges when they engage in youthful mischief or wrongdoing. While many people maintain the belief that these records will simply fade into non-existence once they come of age, this is a mistaken belief. Because this is the case, juvenile records must be expunged or they can continue to interfere with a person's life long after they have come of age. Fortunately for young people who ran afoul of the law, Pennsylvania is less restrictive when it comes to what is required for a person to expunge their juvenile records. The eligibility requirements for juvenile expungements in Erie County, and throughout Pennsylvania, are as follows:
- A person has come of age (turns 18) and made a request to the court to expunge their record, and the court approves.
- A person was placed under court supervision, the supervision has concluded, and at least six (6) months have passed since the supervision without any additional criminal proceedings.
- A person was arrested on juvenile charges, but the charges were later dismissed or withdrawn.
- A person was convicted on a juvenile delinquency charge, any relevant sentencing has been completed, and at least five (5) years have passed without any additional criminal proceedings.
Clearing Your Criminal Record in Erie, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Expungement Process in Erie
When expunging a criminal record in Erie County, whether as an adult, juvenile, or after ARD is complete, or sealing a criminal record in Erie County, the Erie County Court of Common Pleas will be where the matter is addressed. The Columbia County Court of Common Pleas is located at 140 W. 6th Street, Erie, PA 16501.
The person seeking the expungement or criminal record sealing in Erie County will be the "petitioner" in the case, and the Erie County District Attorney's Office will be the "respondent." The Elk County District Attorney's Office is located in the Erie County Courthouse; the address, as above, is 140 W. 6th Street # 506, Erie, PA 16501.
The process for an expungement or criminal record sealing in Erie County will proceed without issue in most instances if the Erie 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 Erie, PA, will depend on the specifics of the Erie 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 Erie County as comprehensively as possible.
Because the Erie 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 Erie County Clerk of Courts requires one (1) original pleading. Although the Clerk of Courts in some Pennsylvania counties will serve the applicable District Attorney's Office after the expungement or record sealing pleading is filed, it is the petitioning party's responsibility in Erie County to serve the 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 Erie County Expungement | Attorney for Erie County Record Sealing
Prior arrest or criminal records can seriously interfere with a person's ability to enter or pursue higher education, advance their career and employment goals, or to pursue or maintain a professional license. When petitioning the court for an expungement or criminal record sealing, the court's guidelines must be followed exactly, or the pending results can be further delayed, if the request for relief is not denied outright. Many times, courts will provide only meager and vague information for how to file and how to pursue the appropriate form of relief, expecting defendants to know exactly what must be done with little guidance. For this reason, it may be best to have an expungement handled by an attorney to reduce the potential for frustrating delays or missteps; an experienced Pennsylvania expungement attorney can help.
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 your loved one is seeking an expungement in Erie County, PA, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.