Lawrence County is located on the western border of Pennsylvania, sharing the state line with Ohio. The county is home to over 88,000 residents within its townships and boroughs. The Lawrence County Court of Common Pleas is responsible for both holding legal authority within the county and also maintaining records within the county. If a person has an arrest or criminal record within the county, and they wish to clear their name per Pennsylvania law, they must file a motion for expungement within the county.
Expungement in Lawrence County
Before a person may expunge their records within Lawrence County, they must first meet the state's requirements. Pennsylvania only allows a person to expunge their record under certain strict circumstances. These circumstances include:
- If a person was arrested, but the criminal charges were, for example, dismissed by the Lawrence County Court, or withdrawn by the Lawrence County District Attorney's Office, these charges may be eligible for expungement; the appropriate form of relief for charges that were dismissed or withdrawn may, in some instances, be a "partial" expungement, also known as a "redaction."
- Individuals convicted of a summary offense may expunge their records following the completion of their sentencing, and a five (5) year period without additional criminal offenses.
- When an individual is over the age of 70 and has not been the subject of any criminal matters for at least ten (10) years, they may be able to expunge their prior records.
- If an individual was offered the chance to participate in an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program, they may be able to expunge their record once the program has been completed.
Sealing Records in Lawrence County
For more serious conviction records, the state allows for a separate process to seal these records. This process is performed by using Pennsylvania's "Limited Access" laws. Under these laws, even individuals who have records of misdemeanor convictions may clear their names. As with expungements, the state sets certain requirements on whether or not a person's records may qualify to be sealed. First, only misdemeanor records at the level of 2nd degree, 3rd degree, or ungraded misdemeanors may be sealed. In addition, a person must have fulfilled a ten (10) year waiting period without any additional criminal matters against them. Although most otherwise-eligible misdemeanor convictions can be sealed, there are limited exceptions depending on the nature of the charge and the prospective petitioning party's specific circumstances.
Juvenile Records in Lawrence County
Many times, acts youthful rebellion can land a person with a criminal or arrest record before they turn 18. These are most often classified as a juvenile record. Many people do not take these records seriously, mistakenly believing that they will simply disappear or cease to exist once they turn 18; such a belief is mistaken, however. While these records will remain even after a person transitions into adulthood, Pennsylvania does allow for expungements of these records, with more lenient eligibility requirements. The requirements are:
- A person convicted on a juvenile offense may expunge their record once their sentence is complete and at least five (5) years have passed since without further criminal matters against them.
- A person that was arrested on juvenile charges, but later saw the charges dropped will be eligible for an expungement provided that they have no additional criminal matters pending.
- A person that is over the age of 18 may simply petition the court for an immediate expungement, however, the court must approve of this request.
- A person that was placed under court-ordered supervision may expunge their record six (6) months after the supervision has concluded, so long as no criminal matters have been waged against them during this time.
Clearing Your Criminal Record in New Castle, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Expungement Process in New Castle, PA
When expunging a criminal record in Lawrence County, whether as an adult, juvenile, or after ARD is complete or sealing a criminal record in Lawrence County, the Lawrence County Court of Common Pleas will be where the matter is addressed. The Lawrence County Court of Common Pleas is located at 430 Court Street, New Castle, PA 16101.
The person seeking the expungement or criminal record sealing in Lawrence County will be the "petitioner" in the case, and the Lawrence County District Attorney's Office will be the "respondent." The Lawrence County District Attorney's Office is located in the Lawrence County Court; the address, as above, is 430 Court Street, New Castle, PA 16101.
The process for an expungement or criminal record sealing in Lawrence County will proceed without issue in most instances if the Lawrence 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 New Castle, PA, will depend on the specifics of the Lawrence 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 Lawrence County as comprehensively as possible.
Because the Lawrence 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 Lawrence County Clerk of Courts requires one (1) original pleading unlike most Pennsylvania counties. Although the Clerk of Courts will serve the District Attorney's Office, it is good practice in Lawrence County for the petitioning party to also serve the District Attorney's Office.
Finding the Best Attorney for Lawrence County Expungement | Attorney for Lawrence County Record Sealing
When a person has prior arrest or criminal records, not only employers, but institutions such as colleges, universities, or professional licensing boards may come such records during background checks. This can severely affect a person's chances at fulfilling their goals. Filing for expungement or sealing of these records can often be an effective way to move forward, but the process can also be confusing and frustrating. Unfortunately, the courts will seldom provide an adequate level of guidance for individuals seeking to expunge their records. For these reasons, it may be best to leave these motions in the hands of a knowledgeable attorney, and an experienced Pennsylvania expungement attorney can help.
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 New Castle or Lawrence County, PA, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.