I’ve Been Clean for Years—Can I Expunge My Drug Crimes From My Record?

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Apr 28, 2023 | 0 Comments

Getting arrested for drug possession or other drug-related crimes can have a negative effect on many different areas of your life. You may have to report your drug conviction in applications for jobs or housing, or your conviction may prevent you from qualifying for student loans. If it has been years since your arrest and you are tired of past convictions affecting your present life, you might be able to expunge your record.

What Is Expungement?

In Pennsylvania, there are three main ways to hide your criminal record from the public view: expungement, record sealing, and pardons. Expungement means that a person's criminal record is destroyed entirely. Employers, the court system, and even the police cannot find information about an expunged record. It is as if the arrest and conviction never existed in the first place.

In contrast, you might apply to have your criminal record sealed. A “sealed” record can still be viewed by the police, the court system, and certain types of employers, but it is generally not viewable to the public. A person whose criminal record has been sealed or expunged no longer has to report the arrest or conviction on job applications, housing applications, and similar forms.

A pardon is granted by the governor, who has the ability to forgive a person's crimes and make it so that legally the conviction never existed. Both pardons and expungements restore a person's civil rights that they may have lost after a felony conviction—for example, the right to own a firearm or serve on a jury.

How Do I Get An Expungement?

The process of getting an expungement involves filing a petition in the county where the crime took place. As part of the petition, you must prove that you meet one of the very limited bases for an expungement. In Pennsylvania, you will only qualify for expungement if:

  • You were arrested, but your criminal charges were dropped or dismissed before trial;
  • You are a first-time offender and successfully completed an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program;
  • You were arrested for underage drinking, completed your court-ordered requirements, and have reached the age of 21;
  • You committed a low-level offense that is usually only punished with a fine, and it has been at least five years since your conviction;
  • You are over the age of 70, and it has been at least ten years since your conviction; or
  • You want to have your relative's criminal conviction expunged posthumously, and it has been at least three years since they passed away.

If you do not meet any of these conditions, it may be difficult to successfully obtain an expungement. However, you may still be able to apply for a pardon or apply to have your record sealed, depending on your circumstances.

Get Help With Drug Crime Expungement Today

A criminal record expungement can help you move on from darker times in the past. At the Lento Law Firm, criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team of legal professionals can help you decide the best course of action for your future. Contact our office today by calling 888.535.3686 and learn more about whether expungement is an option for you.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the Lento Law Firm today! Criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

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