Luzerne County is located in the northeastern region of Pennsylvania. The county is home to over 318,000 residents within its townships and boroughs. Overseeing all matters of law within the county is the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas, located in the county seat of Wilkes-Barre, PA. The court is responsible for holding authority on legal disputes within the county and also holding records within the county. If a person seeks to seal or expunge their records within the county, they must petition this court.
Expungement in Luzerne County
When a person wishes to file for an expungement in Luzerne County, they must first qualify under the state's requirements for expunging their records. Pennsylvania only allows a person to expunge their record in a few select circumstances. A person may qualify to have their record expunged if:
- If they are over the age of 70, and at least ten (10) years have passed without additional criminal proceedings against them.
- If they have been convicted on a summary offense, they have fulfilled any sentencing, and at least five (5) years have passed without additional criminal proceedings.
- If they have been assigned to an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program and the program has been completed.
- If a person was arrested, but the criminal charges were, for example, dismissed by the Luzerne County Court, or withdrawn by the Luzerne County District Attorney's Office, these charges may be eligible for expungement; the appropriate form of relief for charges that were dismissed or withdrawn may be a "redaction," also known as a "partial" expungement, depending on the circumstances of the case.
Juvenile Expungement In Luzerne County
When a person is arrested or charged with a crime prior to their 18th birthday, in most cases, their records are classified as juvenile records. Though popular belief may suggest otherwise, these records must be expunged, and will not simply "vanish" upon a person's coming of age. Pennsylvania is less restrictive on what circumstances will allow a person to expunge a juvenile record. Expungement of a juvenile record in Pennsylvania can be done in the following situations:
- A person faced juvenile charges, but the charges were later dismissed or withdrawn.
- A person is over the age of 18 and the court has approved their petition to expunge their record.
- A person was convicted of a juvenile offense, served their sentence to completion, and at least five (5) years have passed without additional criminal proceedings.
- A person was placed under court supervision, has completed the supervisory period, and at least six (6) months have passed without additional criminal proceedings.
Sealing Records in Luzerne County
Under Pennsylvania's "Limited Access" laws, a person may be able to seal their record of more serious offenses. A person's misdemeanor records may be sealed under these laws, provided that the record is at the level of an ungraded, 2nd degree, or 3rd degree misdemeanor. A person must also have fulfilled a period of at least ten (10) years without additional criminal proceedings against them in order to be eligible. Most otherwise-eligible misdemeanor convictions can be sealed under Pennsylvania's Limited Access, however, there are limited exceptions which may depend on the charge itself and also the petitioning party's specific circumstances.
Clearing Your Criminal Record in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Expungement Process in Wilkes-Barre
When expunging a criminal record in Luzerne County, whether as an adult, juvenile or after ARD is complete or sealing a criminal record in Luzerne County, the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas will be where the matter is addressed. The Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas is located at 200 N. River Street, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18711.
The person seeking the expungement or criminal record sealing in Luzerne County will be the "petitioner" in the case, and the Luzerne County District Attorney's Office will be the "respondent." The Luzerne County District Attorney's Office is located in the Luzerne County Court House; the address, as above, is 200 N. River Street, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18711.
The process for an expungement or criminal record sealing in Luzerne County will proceed without issue in most instances if the Luzerne 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 Wilkes-Barre, PA, will depend on the specifics of the Luzerne 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 Luzerne County as comprehensively as possible.
Because the Luzerne 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 Luzerne 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 Luzerne County for the petitioning party to also serve the District Attorney's Office.
Finding the Best Attorney for Luzerne County Expungement | Attorney for Luzerne County Record Sealing
When a person is seeking to advance their career, better their employment opportunities, enter a higher education program, or maintain or apply for a professional license, their prior records can greatly hinder their progress in these matters. Motioning for expungement or criminal record sealing can be crucial in these situations, and an additional consideration is that the time period to interview for employment, obtain licensure, or apply to an educational institution is often limited. Unfortunately, courts do not always provide an adequate degree of direction when a person seeks to file for these motions, which can lead to confusion and mistakes in the process. Any missteps can result in a person having to start the process from the beginning, if not an outright denial of relief. Because so much can be at stake, it is often in a person's best interest to have the filing done by an attorney well-versed in these motion; doing so will both reduce the likelihood of any delay and maximize the likelihood of success.
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 Wilkes-Barre or Luzerne County, PA, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.