Northampton County is one of Pennsylvania's easternmost counties, sharing a border with the state of New Jersey. The county has a population of over 800,000 residents within its townships and cities. The county is supported in all matters of law by the Northampton County Court of Common Pleas located in Easton, PA. The court also keeps all records related to legal matters within the county, including criminal and arrest records. When a person seeks to clear their name within the county, they must petition this court for either the sealing of their record or an expungement of the record through a legal motion.
Expunging a Record in Northampton County
When a person wishes to expunge a record in Northampton County, they must first determine whether or not they will be eligible for an expungement through Pennsylvania law. The state only permits a person to expunge their record under a few narrow circumstances. These include:
- When a person has aged over 70 years old and has not faced any criminal proceedings for at least ten (10) years.
- When a person has fulfilled an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program, instead of incurring a criminal conviction.
- When a person has been convicted on a summary offense, has completed their sentencing, and has allowed at least five (5) years to pass without any additional criminal matters against them.
- If a person was arrested, but the criminal charges were, for example, dismissed by the Northampton County Court, or withdrawn by the Northampton County District Attorney's Office, these charges may be eligible for expungement; charges that were dismissed or withdrawn may be instead eligible for a "partial" expungement, also known as a "redaction," depending on the circumstances of the case.
Sealing a Record in Northampton County
For higher leveled criminal offenses, a person must conduct a separate filing to seal their records. This process may be used on 2nd degree, 3rd degree, or ungraded misdemeanor charges. The process makes use of Pennsylvania's "Limited Access" laws, which prevent access to a person's sealed records when a background check is issued. In order to be eligible, a person must not have faced any criminal proceedings within the past ten (10) years. Although certain misdemeanor convictions are specifically precluded, most convictions will be eligible for record sealing in Pennsylvania if all other conditions are satisfied. Before pursuing such relief, a person considering record sealing should understand the conditions that must be satisfied to be eligible for relief under Pennsylvania's Limited Access laws.
Expunging a Juvenile Record in Northampton County
When a person is arrested or faces criminal charges before aging to legal adulthood, they will be classified as juvenile records within the court. These records will continue to exist even after a person enters adulthood, contrary to the popular belief that they disappear when a person turns 18. Thankfully, these records are eligible for expungement under less strict circumstances than adult records. A person may expunge their juvenile records if:
- If they are over the age of 18, have petitioned the court for an expungement, and were able to convince the court to grant the expungement,
- If they have been convicted on a juvenile offense, served their sentence, and at least five (5) years have passed without further criminal matters against them.
- If they were placed under court supervision, have completed the period of supervision, and at least six (6) months have passed without additional criminal matters against them.
- If they were arrested on juvenile charges, but later had the charges withdrawn or dropped.
Clearing Your Criminal Record in Easton, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Expungement Process in Easton
When expunging a record in Northampton County, whether as an adult, juvenile, or after ARD is complete or sealing a record in Northampton County, the Northampton County Court of Common Pleas will be where the matter is addressed. The Northampton County Court of Common Pleas is located at 669 Washington Street, Easton, PA 18042.
The person seeking the expungement or record sealing in Northampton County will be the "petitioner" in the case, and the Northampton County District Attorney's Office will be the "respondent." The Northampton County District Attorney's Office is located in the Northampton County Courthouse; the address, as above, is 669 Washington Street, Easton, PA 18042.
The process for an expungement or record sealing in Northampton County will proceed without issue in most instances if the Northampton 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 Easton, PA, will depend on the specifics of the Northampton 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 Northampton County as comprehensively as possible.
Because the Northampton 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, although Northampton County expungement requirements include an original pleading only, the petitioning party is responsible for serving the Northampton County District Attorney's Office. A time-stamped copy of the pleading should be obtained for this purpose.
Finding the Best Attorney for Northampton County Expungement | Attorney for Northampton County Record Sealing
When a person is seeking to advance their career goals in and of themselves, or through either higher education or obtaining a professional license, past criminal and arrest records can interfere with their progress, and ultimately, their lives. Expungement and record sealing are of crucial importance for these situations. While a person may file these motions on their own, the courts seldom provide proper guidance for a person to meet the court's standards and rules. Errors in the process can cause a person to have to start from the beginning, which can be frustrating when time is often of the essence. For this reason, to reduce the likelihood of delays, filings may be best done when a person has consulted with an attorney. An experienced Pennsylvania expungement attorney can help ensure the process proceeds as smoothly and quickly 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 Easton or Northampton County, PA, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.