In the State of Pennsylvania, casinos are highly regulated to ensure all activities remain within bounds of the law. For this reason, virtually anyone who applies for a job as a casino worker will likely have to submit to a criminal background check. If you have any arrests or convictions on your record, it could stop you from getting a job in Pennsylvania casinos. If a past arrest or conviction is interfering with your job search, you might want to explore the option of having your record expunged. Expungement removes all public notations of the arrest and court records associated with your criminal offense—and depending on the type of crime, and how long it's been since your conviction, you may be eligible to have it removed from public view. The Lento Law Firm has provided the following information so you'll be better informed about your options.
Will my criminal record automatically disqualify me from all casino positions?
Not necessarily—but it could be a hindrance or limit the types of jobs you may hold. You may still be eligible to work in some low-level casino positions even if you were arrested or convicted. You might be disqualified from some sensitive positions, however—and if your conviction suggests certain risks in some positions, you'll likely be passed over for those jobs. (For example, if you were convicted of financial crimes, don't expect to be hired in any position that deals with cash.) In addition, due to backlogs, sometimes new hires get brought on before their background check goes through. If you fail to disclose a criminal conviction and it shows up on your background check, you will likely be terminated.
What can I do to remove bad marks from my criminal record?
Pennsylvania law allows eligible people to have their criminal or arrest records sealed or expunged. Expungements can erase arrests that do not lead to convictions, as well as lesser criminal convictions. In cases involving more serious criminal offenses, your record may be sealed rather than expunged. In either case, your arrest or conviction won't be visible to employers running background checks. Also, if your record is sealed or expunged, you can legally state that you have not been convicted or arrested when applying for a job.
What is the difference between expungement and record sealing?
Although the terms expungement and record sealing are sometimes used interchangeably, in Pennsylvania, they are two distinct processes. Record sealing, also known as “limited access,” means your records aren't erased, but they are kept private and can only be accessed under certain circumstances. Expungement is the process of destroying all records that are related to your arrest or charges except for use by law enforcement agencies. In nearly all cases, record sealing and expungement have the same effect: they remove incriminating information that is public and background checks.
In Pennsylvania, most arrests without a conviction and some lesser summary offenses may be fully expunged. Other criminal conviction records will be sealed rather than expunged. A skilled defense lawyer can help you determine your eligibility and guide you through every step of the process.
How can I know if I am eligible to have my criminal record sealed or expunged before applying for casino work?
Pennsylvania's laws have been updated in recent years to allow the sealing and expungement of records for more people. The Clean Slate Act of 2018, the most recent reform, makes certain conviction records eligible to be automatically sealed after a specified length of time provided that there have been no additional arrests or convictions. You can also petition the court for sealing a record that is not automatically sealed. The list of eligible offenses and the criteria for expungement are long and complex, but the guide below gives a few basic guidelines.
The following may be eligible for full expungement (complete removal from the record):
- Arrests without a conviction
- Infractions in which the defendant submitted to an ARD (Accelerative Rehabilitation Disposition) program
- Lesser “summary offenses” (after five years with no additional criminal arrests or convictions)
- Anybody age 70 or over who has not been convicted in the last 10 years
These offenses could be eligible for record-sealing (Limited Access):
- Summary offenses (automatic after ten years)
- Most 2nd- and 3rd-degree misdemeanors after 10 years with no additional arrests or convictions
- Other 1st-, 2nd-, and 3rd-degree misdemeanors (by petition, 10 years after one has completed his sentence and without any further criminal activity)
Some more significant offenses are not eligible to be expunged or sealed. These include a long list of felony offenses, firearms offenses, violent offenses that endanger others, sex offenses, and criminal acts towards minors (e.g., statutory rape).
If your prior record doesn't fit somewhere within these guidelines—or if it initially seems you are ineligible—you may still be able to petition the court for expungement or sealing your records under certain conditions. A skilled Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyer can better advise you on whether you're eligible to petition the courts.
Pennsylvania Attorney for Expungement
A criminal record can present a challenge for seeking employment in Pennsylvania casinos, but it doesn't have to be the end of the story. Pennsylvania provides a pathway for eligible people to have their records expunged or sealed. While anyone can petition the court on their own by filing the appropriate forms at the Court of Common Pleas, the process can be complicated, and court employees aren't always able to help. For this reason, it's best to hire a seasoned Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney to help you facilitate your expungement request and make sure you have the best chance for success. Joseph D. Lento, Attorney, has unparalleled experience helping clients clear their criminal records through expungement or recording sealing. Contact the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 to discuss your options.