If you're facing a charge of indecent assault, or if you've already got a conviction on your record, you're undoubtedly concerned about how having a criminal record will affect your future. Or perhaps you've already run up against the consequences, had a potential employer question your criminal conviction, or had an educational program deny you admission. Fortunately, there are several options to clean up your record in Pennsylvania.
While expungement is the complete way to eliminate a criminal record, very few people qualify to have their records expunged under Pennsylvania law. In fact, you can't typically expunge a conviction for indecent assault. Fortunately, there are two options to seal your record for indecent assault as well. You may qualify to use Pennsylvania's Clean Slate legislation or through an Act 5 petition to the court.
Pennsylvania Statute for Indecent Assault
Someone is guilty of indecent assault if:
- The person has indecent contact with the victim,
- Cause the victim to have indecent contact with them, or
- Intentionally causes the victim to come into contact with seminal fluid, urine, or feces,
- With the intent of “arousing sexual desire” in the person or the victim.
Whether the victim gave consent or is capable of giving consent is also important. The “indecent assault” must be taken:
- Without the victim's consent,
- By forcible compulsion,
- By threat of forcible compulsion that would prevent resistance by a “person of reasonable resolution,”
- The victim is unconscious, or the person knows the victim is unaware the indecent contact is happening,
- The person substantially impaired the victim's power to control their own conduct by drugging or intoxicating them to prevent resistance,
- The victim has a mental disability rendering them incapable of consent,
- The victim is under 13, or
- The victim is under 16, the person is four years or more older, and they aren't married to each other.
18 Pa. Stat. § 3126 (2005).
Penalties for Indecent Assault in Pennsylvania
The grading of the indecent assault charge will vary depending on the facts and circumstances of the crime, but the charge can range from a second-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony.
- Indecent Assault Misdemeanor Penalties If the assailant commits the offense against the victim's consent or the victim is under 16, and the assailant is four or more years older, indecent assault is a second-degree misdemeanor. A second-degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to two years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Indecent assault is a first-degree misdemeanor if it happens by forcible compulsion, the threat of forcible compulsion, the victim is unconscious, the assailant knows the victim is unaware, the assailant drugged the victim, the victim can't give consent because of a mental disability, or the victim is under 13. A first-degree misdemeanor is punishable by a fine of $1,500 to $10,000 and up to five years in prison.
- Indecent Assault Felony Penalties Indecent assault is a third-degree felony if the victim is under 13 and it is:
- A second or subsequent offense,
- The assailant has had a course of conduct of indecent assault,
- The assailant committed the indecent assault “by touching the complainant's sexual or intimate parts with sexual or intimate parts of the person”
- The assailant committed the indecent assault “by touching the person's sexual or intimate parts with the complainant's sexual or intimate parts.”
18 Pa. Stat. § 3126 (2005). In Pennsylvania, a third-degree felony is punishable by a fine of $2,500 to $15,000 and up to seven years in prison.
Sealing Your Indecent Assault Record Through Clean Slate
The Pennsylvania state legislature passed new “Clean Slate” legislation in 2019 to allow more people to clean up their records with minimal effort. Before this legislation, only a fraction of people eligible to seal their records filed petitions with the court. Under the new Clean Slate law, state courts will automatically seal the arrest and criminal records of those who qualify. You may qualify for automatic sealing if:
- You have a summary conviction, which is an offense less serious than a misdemeanor,
- You don't have a conviction because the court found you not guilty or dismissed the charges,
- You have a conviction for a second-degree or third-degree misdemeanor,
- You have a conviction for a misdemeanor punishable by two years or less in prison.
Sealing Your Indecent Assault Record with an Act 5 Petition
Even if you don't qualify to seal your record with Clean Slate automatically, you may be able to seal your record through Act 5. Act 5 applies to a wider range of convictions in Pennsylvania, but it doesn't happen automatically. You'll need to petition the court once you're eligible to seal your record.
You may qualify to petition the court to seal your records under Act 5 if:
- You have a misdemeanor or ungraded conviction punishable by five years or less in prison,
- It's been ten years since you completed your sentence and paid all fines,
- You don't have any arrests or prosecutions for any additional crimes punishable by a year or more in jail.
However, some first-degree misdemeanors are not eligible for record sealing under either option. Ineligible misdemeanors include:
- Offenses involving a danger to another person, like assault,
- Offenses against your family, which include domestic violence, bigamy, incest, and child endangerment,
- Offenses involving firearms,
- Offenses involving dangerous weapons, and
- Offenses involving the corruption of a minor, including truancy and statutory rape.
Sealing Felony Records for Indecent Assault
Unfortunately, if you have a felony conviction for indecent assault, you cannot seal or expunge your record. Pennsylvania law does not allow anyone to seal or expunge felony records except in very limited circumstances. For instance, if you receive a pardon from the Governor of Pennsylvania, you can then complete an application to expunge your record. In other cases, you may be able to expunge a felony record if you are at least 70 and it's been at least ten years since your criminal proceedings. You can also expunge records if the defendant has been dead for three years.
Hire an Experienced Pennsylvania Sealing Attorney
Figuring out the best option for sealing or expunging your indecent assault record can be frustrating. That's why using an attorney well-versed in Pennsylvania record sealing is your most efficient option. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the skilled team at the Lento Law Firm have been helping people in Pennsylvania seal and expunge their arrest and criminal records for years. Find out how they can help you too. Call the Lento Law Firm at 888.535.3686 to schedule a consultation, or contact them online today.