Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, is one of the neighboring counties of Philadelphia. Montgomery County is one of the most populous counties in the state. The county's 800,000 plus residents are served in all matters of law by the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas, located in Norristown, PA. Higher-level matters of law, both criminal and civil, are resolved in this court. For criminal matters, defendants must be in contact with the court's Criminal Division to resolve or try their cases. If a defendant with a conviction seeks expungement or record sealing, it must be requested through the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas' Criminal Division as well.
Expungement in Montgomery County, PA
When a person seeks expungement of a prior criminal or arrest record in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, they must first determine whether or not they qualify for expungement in the first place.
The most basic case for expungement of a criminal record is if a person has been arrested, and the criminal charges have been withdrawn or dismissed. The next step is to file a motion for expungement with the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas. Depending on the circumstances of the case, the appropriate form of relief for charges that were withdrawn or dismissed in some instances may be a "redaction," also known as a "partial" expungement.
If a person has a conviction on their record, the process becomes more complex. As an alternative to being convicted of a crime, however, certain criminal charges may allow a defendant to complete an ARD (Accelerative Rehabilitative Disposition) program in lieu of sentencing in order to avoid a conviction. The program must be completed in order to be eligible for expungement.
For other cases where a person was in fact convicted, there are certain requirements set by Pennsylvania law:
- For convictions on lower level offenses, often called summary offenses, a person must wait five (5) years without any criminal proceedings against them before they are eligible for expungement.
- If a defendant is over 70 years old, and more than ten (10) years have passed since any criminal proceedings, they are also eligible for expungement.
Record Sealing in Montgomery County, PA
Pennsylvania has passed a record-sealing law, which went into effect in November 2016, allowing for the sealing of criminal records beyond summary offenses. This law is sometimes spoken of as Pennsylvania's "Limited Access" law, referring to the actual act of limiting access to those records. This allows certain misdemeanor crimes to be sealed, provided they are 2nd degree, 3rd degree, or unclassified/ungraded misdemeanors. The time period for a record to be eligible for criminal record sealing in Montgomery County, and throughout Pennsylvania for that matter, is ten (10) years following the completion of a sentence.
Juvenile Expungements in Montgomery County, PA
If a person faces charges under the age of 18, Pennsylvania offers different methods for expungement of these juvenile records. One of the following eligibility requirements for juvenile expungement must be satisfied to have a juvenile record expunged in Montgomery County, and throughout Pennsylvania for that matter:
- The juvenile charges were dismissed.
- A juvenile is over the age of 18, and the court approves their petition for expungement.
- Juvenile supervision has concluded, and 6 months have passed without criminal proceeding.
- Five (5) years have passed since a juvenile delinquency conviction without criminal proceeding.
Clearing Your Criminal Record in Norristown, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Expungement Process in Norristown
When expunging a criminal record in Montgomery County, whether as an adult, juvenile, or after ARD is complete or sealing a criminal record in Montgomery County, the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas will be where the matter is addressed. The Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas is located at 2 E. Airy Street, Norristown, PA 19401.
The person seeking the expungement or criminal record sealing in Montgomery County will be the "petitioner" in the case, and the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office will be the "respondent." The Montgomery County District Attorney's Office is located in the Montgomery County Court House; the address is, as above, 2 E. Airy Street, Norristown, PA 19401.
The process for an expungement or criminal record sealing in Montgomery County will proceed without issue in most instances if the Montgomery 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 Norristown, PA, will depend on the specifics of the Montgomery 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 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 Montgomery County as comprehensively as possible.
When requesting either expungement or record sealing, if it is disputed by the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office, a hearing will take place in front of a judge where oral argument will be required. Unlike most Pennsylvania counties, however, the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas will schedule a hearing to finalize the expungement or criminal record sealing even if the District Attorney's Office does not object to the request for relief. For a hearing where there is no objection to the expungement or the record sealing itself, the petitioner's presence can be "waived," and the petitioner's attorney can address the matter at the scheduled hearing if there is no objection to the "waiver" from the judge who is assigned the case and the District Attorney's Office, In addition, in some instances, the petitioner's attorney can secure the agreement of the District Attorney's Office to the expungement or record sealing in advance of the scheduled hearing date. When agreement can be secured, it can be an effective strategy towards having the request for expungement or record sealing granted by the judge.
Despite the need for a hearing in Montgomery County, because the Montgomery 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 Montgomery County Clerk of Courts requires one (1) original pleading and an applicable number of copies based upon the number of law enforcement agencies and related organizations involved in the petitioner's original criminal case. The petitioning party is responsible for serving the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office. The Montgomery County Clerk of Courts also has a unique filing fee structure which, unlike most other Pennsylvania counties, is based upon the number of law enforcement and related organizations that will need to be served with the expungement order or limited access order.
Finding the Best Attorney for Montgomery County Expungement | Attorney for Montgomery County Record Sealing
Expungement and record sealing are invaluable legal measures for students who may have gotten into legal trouble, for persons want to avoid employment issues, and for persons who hold professional licenses. Requesting relief can be an exhausting process, especially since court procedures are often confusing and unfamiliar for the average person. In addition, failure to exactly follow the court's processes may require a person to start over from the beginning. For these reasons, it may be helpful to retain the services of an experienced Pennsylvania criminal record expungement attorney to handle this process.
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 expungement or criminal record sealing in Norristown or Montgomery County, PA, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.