Lancaster County is one of Pennsylvania's most well known and largest counties. The county is home to several well-known Pennsylvania landmarks, as well as over 536,000 residents. The county is served in all matters of law by the Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas, located in the county seat of Lancaster, PA. The court oversees the resolution of legal disputes and the keeping of records throughout the county. For individuals with arrest or criminal records within the county, they must petition this court if they wish to clear their name.
Expungement in Lancaster County
Expunging a record in Lancaster County cannot be done without first meeting the state's requirements for expungement. Pennsylvania has strict requirements on what situations allow a person to expunge their record. These requirements are:
- If a person was able to avoid a criminal conviction by participating in an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) Program, upon completion, they will be able to expunge their record.
- If a person is over 70 years old, after ten (10) years have passed without criminal proceedings, they will be able to expunge their records.
- If a person was convicted on a summary offense, and they have served their sentence, their records will be eligible for expungement once at least five (5) years have passed without additional criminal proceedings.
- If a person was arrested, but the criminal charges were, for example, dismissed by the Lancaster County Court, or withdrawn by the Lancaster County District Attorney's Office, these charges may be eligible for expungement; a "partial" expungement, also known as a "redaction," may, depending on the circumstances of the case, be the more appropriate form of relief for charges that were withdrawn or dismissed.
Record Sealing in Lancaster County
For more serious criminal records, a person may be eligible to pursue a motion to seal their record. This can be done through the use of Pennsylvania's "Limited Access" laws, which allow for even misdemeanor conviction records to be sealed. With some limited exceptions, misdemeanor records within the bounds of 2nd degree, 3rd degree, and ungraded categories may be eligible for record sealing under these laws. A person must also not have had any criminal matters brought against them for at least ten (10) years if they wish to seal their records.
Juvenile Record Expungement in Lancaster County
When a person has a record from prior to their 18th birthday, it is often classified as a juvenile record. While popular myth may suggest that these records no longer matter once a person comes of age, this could not be further from the truth. These records can intervene with a person's goals in life long after their 18th birthday. They must be expunged just as an adult record should be, when eligible. Thankfully, Pennsylvania offers less restrictive requirements on expunging a person's juvenile records. These include:
- A person that was convicted on a juvenile offense, and has served their sentence may expunge their record after five (5) years have passed without additional criminal proceedings.
- A person that faced juvenile charges, but later had the charges withdrawn or dropped will be eligible to have their juvenile record expunged.
- A person that was placed under court supervision, and has completed the supervision, will be eligible for an expungement once six (6) months have passed without additional criminal proceedings.
- A person that has come of age may request and expungement from the court at any time, however, the court must approve this request before any expungement will take place.
Clearing Your Criminal Record in Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Expungement Process in Lancaster
When expunging a criminal record in Lancaster County, whether as an adult, juvenile, or after ARD is complete or sealing a criminal record in Lancaster County, the Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas will be where the matter is addressed. The Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas is located at 50 N. Duke Street, Lancaster, PA 17608.
The person seeking the expungement or criminal record sealing in Lancaster County will be the "petitioner" in the case, and the Lancaster County District Attorney's Office will be the "respondent." The Lancaster County District Attorney's Office is located in the Lancaster County Government Center; 150 N Queen St.Lancaster, Pennsylvania 17603 is the address.
The process for an expungement or criminal record sealing in Lancaster County will proceed without issue in most instances if the Lancaster 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 Lancaster, PA, will depend on the specifics of the Lancaster 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 criminal 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 Lancaster County as comprehensively as possible.
Because the Lancaster 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 Lancaster County Clerk of Courts has a unique filing requirement in that an exhaustive number of pleadings are required, unlike all other Pennsylvania counties which require a much lesser number. One (1) original pleading and 14 copies are required when filing in Lancaster County. An extra copy should also be provided and time-stamped when filing. The petitioning party is required to serve the Lancaster County District Attorney's Office with the time-stamped copy.
Finding the Best Attorney for Lancaster County Expungement | Attorney for Lancaster County Record Sealing
Individuals who wish advance their careers, enter into higher education, or maintain state licensing in a professional field, will have strong reasons to have their criminal records expunged or sealed when eligible. When a person attempts to expunge their records, however, they will seldom obtain sufficiently helpful information from the court to file the necessary motion themselves. Missteps or improper filings can create unnecessary delays when time is often of the essence. It may be in a person's best interest to have an expungement filing done by an attorney to reduce the potential for delay. An experienced Pennsylvania expungement attorney can help make the likelihood of success as strong as possible.
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 a loved one is seeking an expungement or criminal record sealing in Lancaster County, PA, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.