More than ten percent of Americans over 60 will experience abuse each year. In Pennsylvania, we have millions of disabled and elderly adults who are care-dependent, meaning they rely on assistance for food, care, clothing, or shelter. The care-dependent population is particularly vulnerable; that's why the Pennsylvania code deals harshly with caretakers who neglect their charges. But if you're facing a charge for neglect of a care-dependent person, or you already have a conviction on your record, the consequences can be severe and long-lasting.
Pennsylvania Statute Concerning Neglect of a Care-dependent Person
Someone is guilty of neglecting a care-dependent person if they are responsible for a care-dependent person and:
- Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly cause an injury, serious injury, or death by not providing treatment, care, goods, or services needed to keep them healthy and safe.
- Intentionally or knowingly use a physical restraint or medication, or isolate them, and injury, serious bodily injury, or death results.
- Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly endangers their welfare by failing to provide treatment, care, goods, or services necessary to preserve their health, safety, or welfare.
18 Pa. Stat. § 2713 (2007).
A “care-dependent person” is “any adult who, due to physical or cognitive disability or impairment, requires assistance to meet his needs for food, shelter, clothing, personal care or health care.”
Penalties for Neglect of a Care-Dependent Person
Penalties for neglecting a care-dependent person will vary depending on the facts and circumstances of the crime. The charge can range from a second-degree misdemeanor to a first-degree felony.
- Second-degree Misdemeanor Neglect of a care-dependent person becomes a second-degree misdemeanor when the caretaker“intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly endangers the welfare of [a care-dependent person] by failing to provide treatment, care, goods or services necessary to preserve their health, safety, or welfare.” A conviction for a second-degree misdemeanor in Pennsylvania can result in a fine of $5,000 and one to two years in prison.
- First-degree Misdemeanor Neglect of a care-dependent person is a first-degree misdemeanor if the caretaker's actions result in “bodily injury” to the care-dependent person. In Pennsylvania, a first-degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to five years in prison anda fine of $1,500 to $10,000.
- Third-degree Felony Neglect of a care-dependent person is a third-degree felony if the caretaker “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly endangers the welfare of [a care-dependent person] by failing to provide treatment, care, goods or services necessary to preserve their health, safety, or welfare” and there's also a “course of conduct of endangering the welfare of a care-dependent person.” In Pennsylvania, a third-degree felony is punishable by a fine of $2,500 to $15,000 and up to seven years in prison.
- First-degree Felony Neglect of a care-dependent person becomes a first-degree felony if the victim suffers serious bodily injury or death. In Pennsylvania, a first-degree misdemeanor conviction is punishable by ten to 20 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.
Sealing Your Record for Neglect of a Care-Dependent Person
If you have a misdemeanor conviction for neglect of a care-dependent person, you may have two options to seal your record. While sealing won't destroy your records, it will prevent the public from accessing them. In some cases, you may be eligible to have the court automatically seal your records under Pennsylvania's Clean Slate legislation. But even if you don't qualify for automatic sealing, you may be able to petition the court to seal your records under Pennsylvania's Act 5.
Sealing a Record Through Clean Slate
Pennsylvania's ground-breaking Clean Slate legislation of 2019 is the easiest option to keep your records hidden from public view. If you meet the statutory requirements, under the new law, the court will automatically
seal your records ten years after you complete your sentence and pay your fines.
The court automatically seals your records under Clean Slate if:
- You have a summary conviction for a charge less serious than a misdemeanor,
- The court found you not guilty or dismissed the charges,
- You have a second or third-degree misdemeanor conviction, or
- Your misdemeanor conviction is only punishable by two years or less.
As a result, you may be able to seal your record if you were
convicted of a second-degree misdemeanor for neglect of a care-dependent person.
Sealing a Record with an Act 5 Petition
If you don't qualify to seal your record under Clean Slate, you may be able to use Act 5. Act 5 doesn't happen automatically; you must petition the court. But Act 5 applies to a wider range of misdemeanor convictions. You may qualify for Act 5 sealing if:
- It's been ten years since you completed your sentence and paid all your fines,
- You don't have any additional arrests or prosecutions for any crime punishable by more than one year in jail, and
- Your misdemeanor conviction or other ungraded offense is punishable by five years or less in prison.
So, if you have a first-degree misdemeanor conviction for neglect of a care-dependent person, you may qualify to petition the court to seal your records under Act 5.
Sealing a Felony Charge for Neglect of a Care-Dependent Person
If you have a felony conviction for neglect of a care-dependent person, you cannot seal or expunge your record under Pennsylvania law except under some very specific, limited situations. If you get a pardon from the Governor of Pennsylvania, you may apply to have your conviction expunged. But if you have a felony conviction for neglect of a care-dependent person, you should consult an attorney with experience in Pennsylvania expungement and sealing cases.
A Skilled Pennsylvania Sealing Attorney Can Help
If you have a conviction for neglect of a care-dependent person, it can be hard to determine the best options you have for sealing your record under Pennsylvania law. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his experienced team have been helping Pennsylvanians with sealing records for years, and they can help you too. Give the Lento Law Firm a call at 888.535.3686 to schedule a consultation, or contact them online today.