When you're young, an arrest and conviction for disorderly conduct can seem like a rite of passage. After all, it's not a big deal if it's just a misdemeanor, right? Unfortunately, if you've had a criminal record for a while, you may have realized that even a misdemeanor conviction can follow you for a long time, limiting your educational and career prospects. You may have faced increased scrutiny while applying for jobs, seeking professional licensing, applying for a security clearance, or even trying to volunteer in the community. Fortunately, Pennsylvania is a state that believes in second chances, and our laws offer several options for cleaning up your criminal record, including expungement and record sealing.
Expunging your record is typically the most thorough way to clean up your record. Expungement involves a court order to destroy your records. Unfortunately, not many people qualify to expunge their records under Pennsylvania law. Typically, you can only expunge a misdemeanor or felony conviction under very limited circumstances. However, you may qualify to seal your records, limiting public access to your arrest and court records.
Pennsylvania Statute for Disorderly Conduct
You can face charges for disorderly conduct in Pennsylvania if you intentionally cause public “inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly” create a risk and:
- Engage in fighting, threatening, violent, or “tumultuous” behavior,
- Make “unreasonable noise,”
- Use obscene language or gestures, or
- Create a “hazardous or physically offensive condition” with any act that “serves no legitimate purpose.”
18 Pa. Stat. § 5503 (2010).
Misdemeanor Penalties for Disorderly Conduct in Pennsylvania
As with most criminal charges, the grade of offense you will face varies on the circumstances of your arrest. Disorderly conduct can range from a summary offense to a third-degree misdemeanor, depending on your intent and the harm caused.
If your actions “cause substantial harm or serious inconvenience,” or if you “persist in disorderly conduct” after you are reasonably warned or asked to stop,” you can face a third-degree misdemeanor charge for disorderly conduct. In Pennsylvania, a third-degree misdemeanor conviction is punishable by a fine of $250 to $5,000 and jail time of up to 90 days.
Summary Offense Penalties for Disorderly Conduct in Pennsylvania
If your actions don't cause “substantial harm or serious inconvenience” and you stop when warned or ordered to do so, your charge for disorderly conduct will likely be a summary offense, which is a grade lower than a misdemeanor. In Pennsylvania, a summary conviction is punishable by a fine of $75 to $250 and jail time for up to 90 days.
Sealing Your Record for Disorderly Conduct in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania law offers two options for sealing your record in Pennsylvania: Clean Slate and Act 5.
- Sealing Your Record with Clean Slate Until recently, most people who qualified to seal their records in Pennsylvania didn't take advantage of the option. Petitioning the court could be an overwhelming process, and many people didn't know they had the option to seal their records or know how to proceed if they did. So, in 2019, the Pennsylvania legislature enacted new “Clean Slate” legislation to make sealing criminal records accessible to more people. Under Clean Slate, the state will now automatically seal the records of those who qualify after five to ten years. You may qualify for automatic record sealing under Clean Slate if:
- You have a summary conviction or a second or third-degree misdemeanor conviction in Pennsylvania,
- You have an ungraded misdemeanor conviction punishable by no more than two years in prison, or
- You don't have a criminal conviction, meaning the court dismissed your charges or found you not guilty.
- If you have a conviction for a third-degree misdemeanor or summary offense for disorderly conduct, you may qualify for automatic record sealing under Clean Slate.
- You have a first-degree or ungraded misdemeanor conviction punishable by no more than five years in prison,
- You don't have any additional arrests or prosecutions for crimes punishable by a year or more in prison, and
- It's been at least ten years since you completed your sentence and paid any restitution ordered by the court.
If you have a third-degree misdemeanor conviction or a summary conviction for disorderly conduct in Pennsylvania, you may qualify to seal your records using Act 5 or Clean Slate. However, not all misdemeanor convictions are eligible for sealing, including some assault convictions, those involving minors, and domestic violence charges. You should discuss your options with an experienced Pennsylvania sealing attorney before proceeding.
Expunging a Conviction for Disorderly Conduct in Pennsylvania
If you have a summary conviction for disorderly conduct in Pennsylvania, you may also qualify to expunge your record through a court order. However, in Pennsylvania, you can only expunge a misdemeanor conviction for disorderly conduct under limited circumstances, including:
- If you receive a governor's pardon,
- You are over 70, and it's been a minimum of ten years since your criminal proceedings, or
- If the subject of the criminal record has been deceased for at least three years.
If you're interested in expunging your summary offense or misdemeanor conviction, you should speak with an experienced Pennsylvania sealing and expungement attorney like Attorney Joseph D. Lento.
Hire a Skilled Pennsylvania Sealing and Expungement Attorney
Determining the best option can be challenging if you want to clean up your criminal record in Pennsylvania. But this isn't a process you have to decipher on your own. An experienced Pennsylvania sealing and expungement attorney can evaluate your case and figure out the most efficient way to proceed. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his skilled team at the Lento Law Firm have been helping Pennsylvanians seal and expunge criminal records for years. Find out how they can help you too. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888.535.3686, or contact them online to schedule your consultation.