Pennsylvania's General Assembly continues to consider amending current laws to make criminal history expungements more widely available to more minors convicted of misdemeanors or felonies. The proposed legislation, Senate Bill 1226, has passed early committee review and may yet see full Assembly action. Criminal records can deny a rehabilitated offender all kinds of deserved opportunities. If you have a criminal record, whether from a conviction when a minor or adult, retain premier Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento to seek expungement.
The Proposed Legislation
Senate Bill 1226, if adopted as law in Pennsylvania, would do several things to help minors convicted of crimes. Senate Bill 1226 would generally allow a minor to expunge a misdemeanor after two years of not having been convicted of or charged with another crime. Senate Bill 1226 would also generally allow a minor to expunge a felony after five years of not having been convicted of or charged with another crime. According to a legislative sponsor's memorandum, Senate Bill 1226 would also standardize the process already in place for expungements when the minor turns age twenty-one. A task force study of the current minor expungement law found that only a fraction of minors actually gains the benefit of that law. The vast majority of convicted minors retain some record of arrest, charge, or conviction, despite the possibility of expungement. Senate Bill 1226 would also fund more juvenile diversions from criminal proceedings to address the current underuse of diversion programs.
The Proposed Legislation's Positive Impact
Senate Bill 1226's measures, if put in place, could indeed have a great positive impact on Pennsylvania youth. The positive impact of expungement can be substantial. The Pennsylvania Juvenile Justice Task Force Report from which the sponsors drew Senate Bill 1226's proposed measures found that most youth facing juvenile charges are not on a path toward adult crime. Juvenile conviction and a criminal record, though, can interfere with the youth's social and educational opportunities and development, harm self-confidence and identity, and dampen the maturing youth's prospects. The report also found that most youth entering the juvenile justice system do so through low-level risk behaviors, not seriously endangering crime. Yet juvenile charges and convictions for that low-level offense can spoil the youth's criminal record, much like more serious crimes. The report also showed that low-level juvenile offenses could divert the youth into out-of-home placements that remove family structure and support. Senate Bill 1226's positive impacts could, in short, be substantial.
Criminal Record Expungements Currently Available
Current Pennsylvania law supports expungements for many more individuals, including both minors and adults, than take advantage of these proactive, helpful laws. Don't carry a burden you need not carry. Retain premier Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm's criminal defense team for your expungement review. Call 888.535.3686 or go online now.