If you have a criminal record in Pennsylvania, it can have long-term consequences. Aside from penalties for a criminal conviction like fines, probation, and jail time, a record can affect your future profession and education. A record can also affect your ability to obtain student loans, financial aid, or even rent an apartment or buy a home. Luckily, Pennsylvania offers a second chance for some people with a chance to remove some criminal records through expungement. An expungement is an order from a Pennsylvania court to destroy all administrative and court records related to a criminal arrest, charge, or conviction in the state.
What Can You Expunge in Pennsylvania?
You can expunge a summary offense in Pennsylvania if you remain free from arrest or any prosecution for five years or longer. A summary offense is less serious than a misdemeanor or felony with a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,500. Most summary offense convictions result in just a fine.
Expungements are also possible for crimes where you were charged but never convicted by a court. These eligible non-convictions include not guilty verdicts, dismissed charges, dropped charges, as well as nolle prose dispositions. Misdemeanor and felony convictions in Pennsylvania aren't eligible for expungement, but you may be able to have convictions sealed in some cases.
Misrepresenting or Lying About Your Age to Obtain Alcohol in Pennsylvania
The Pennsylvania Criminal Code defines lying about your age to obtain alcohol. A person is guilty of a misrepresentation of age to secure liquor or malt or brewed beverages if he:
[B]eing under the age of 21 years, knowingly and falsely represents himself to be 21 years of age or older to any licensed dealer, distributor or other person, for the purpose of procuring or having furnished to him, any liquor or malt or brewed beverages.
18 Pa. Stat. § 6307 (a) (2018). This crime could include a minor telling a bartender or party host that they are 21 to get an alcoholic drink or presenting fake identification at the grocery store trying to buy beer.
Lying about or misrepresenting your age to secure alcohol is a summary offense for a first violation and a third-degree misdemeanor for any subsequent violations. The penalties change depending on the degree of the crime for a first or subsequent offense. The penalty can range from no fine for a first conviction up to a $500 fine for subsequent offenses.
(b) Minimum penalty.--A person who is convicted of violating subsection (a) may be sentenced to pay a fine of not more than $500 for subsequent violations. No court shall have the authority to suspend any sentence as defined in this section.
18 Pa. Stat. § 6307 (b) (2018).
- Minors Adjudicated Delinquent
You can also be adjudicated delinquent if convicted of lying about your age to obtain alcohol. An “adjudication of delinquency” means a minor committed an offense that would be considered a crime if committed by an adult. When a judge finds a child guilty of a crime, they are “adjudicated delinquent,” not convicted of a crime. While minors can commit summary offenses for misrepresenting their age to obtain alcohol, just as those over 18 can, a minor can't be sent to jail for a summary offense, even if an adult found guilty of the same crime might spend up to 90 days in jail.
(c) Adjudication of delinquency.--In addition to any other disposition authorized by law, a person adjudicated delinquent under subsection (a) may be ordered to pay a fine not exceeding $500 for an adjudication of delinquency.
18 Pa. Stat. § 6307 (c) (2018). If a judge adjudicates a minor delinquent for misrepresenting their age to obtain alcohol, they can face up to a $500 fine.
Can I Expunge a Charge for Lying About My Age to Obtain Alcohol?
In Pennsylvania, you can expunge a charge for lying about or misrepresenting your age to obtain alcohol if:
- The court convicted you of the summary offense of the crime for your first offense, and if you've been free from arrest or prosecution for five years,
- You were charged but never convicted of a summary offense or misdemeanor charge of lying about your age to obtain alcohol. These eligible offenses including not guilty verdicts, charges that were withdrawn or dismissed, or nolle prose dispositions, or
- You went through a diversionary program where you completed probation or some alternative resolution process without conviction.
Pennsylvania law also expressly allows expungement of a charge of lying or misrepresenting your age to obtain alcohol if the court sent you through a diversionary program. When you go through preadjudication disposition, the court admits you to an alternative program that may involve probation, community service, and alcohol treatment classes before you plead guilty. If you complete the program, the court will then dismiss the charges.
(d) Preadjudication disposition.--
(1) When a person is charged with violating subsection (a), the court may admit the offender to an adjudication alternative program under 42 Pa.C.S. § 1520 (relating to adjudication alternative program) or to any other preadjudication disposition, if the offender has not previously received a preadjudication disposition for violating subsection (a).
(2) The use of a preadjudication disposition shall be considered a first or subsequent offense, whichever is applicable, for the purpose of further adjudication under this section or under section 6310.4.
18 Pa. Stat. § 6307 (d) (2018). The preadjudication disposition is considered a first offense for any subsequent charges for the same offense.
You can only expunge a misdemeanor conviction in limited circumstances. If you have a conviction for a third-degree misdemeanor for misrepresenting your age to obtain alcohol, you can expunge your record if:
- You are at least 70, and it's been ten years or more since the criminal proceedings, or
- The person convicted has been dead for at least three years.
You probably can't have your record expunged if you don't meet one of these criteria. Instead, you may be able to apply for sealing of the records or apply for a pardon. If you have a juvenile conviction, you may be able to expunge your juvenile record in some situations. An attorney can advise you on the best path forward.
Hire a Pennsylvania Attorney Experienced in Expunctions
To determine the best way to clear your record in Pennsylvania, you should consult an experienced criminal defense attorney well versed in expungements and record sealing. Attorney Joseph D. Lento is an experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney with a great deal of experience helping clients expunge criminal records. He can help. Give the Lento Law Firm a call at 888-535-3686.