If you're facing a charge for endangering the welfare of children, or if you've already got a conviction on your record, you may be concerned about how this can affect your personal and professional reputation long term. You may have even already experienced problems with an employer background check or renewing a professional license. Fortunately, we have several options to clean up criminal records in Pennsylvania.
Expungement is usually the most thorough way to eliminate your criminal record. Unfortunately, if you have a conviction for a misdemeanor or felony, you can only expunge your record under very limited circumstances. However, you may be able to seal your records or limit public access to them through Pennsylvania's Clean Slate legislation or an Act 5 petition to the court.
Pennsylvania Statute for Endangering the Welfare of Children
You can face charges for endangering the welfare of children if:
- You are a parent, guardian, or supervising a child under 18, or you employ or supervise someone who does, and you “knowingly endanger the welfare of the child by violating a duty of care, protection, or support,” or
- You prevent or interfere with making a report of suspected child abuse in an official capacity to child protective services.
“Person supervising the welfare of a child” means someone other than a parent or guardian providing “care, education, training, or control of a child.” 18 Pa. Stat. § 4304 (2017).
Misdemeanor Penalties for Endangering the Welfare of Children in Pennsylvania
Typically, endangering the welfare of children in Pennsylvania is a first-degree misdemeanor. However, it becomes a third-degree felony if the child was under six at the time of the offense. A first-degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of $1,500 to $10,000. A third-degree felony is punishable by up to seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine. You cannot seal felony convictions in Pennsylvania.
Endangering the Welfare of Children Felony Penalties
- Third-degree Felony Penalties Endangering the welfare of children is a third-degree felony in Pennsylvania if you:
- Engage in a “course of conduct of endangering the welfare of a child,” or
- Create a “substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury” while violating a “duty of care, protection, or support” or interfering with filing a child abuse report.
- If the child is under six, the crime becomes a second-degree felony. The penalties for a third-degree felony conviction include a fine of $2,500 to $15,000 and up to seven years in prison.
Sealing Your Record for Endangering the Welfare of Children
Under Pennsylvania law, you have two options to seal your record, the state's Clean Slate legislation or an Act 5 petition.
In 2019, the state passed legislation to make sealing records accessible to more people. Before 2019, most qualifying people with records didn't seal them, either because they didn't know they qualified or because the process was burdensome. With the new “Clean Slate” legislation, the state will automatically seal the arrest and court records of those who qualify within five to ten years. You might qualify for automatic sealing if:
- You only have a conviction for a summary offense, a second-degree misdemeanor, or a third-degree misdemeanor,
- You have a misdemeanor conviction punishable by two years in prison or less, or
- You were never convicted of the crime because a court found you not guilty or dismissed the charges against you.
If you have a first-degree misdemeanor conviction for endangering the welfare of children, you will not qualify to automatically seal your records under Clean Slate.
Act 5 Petition
If you have a first-degree misdemeanor conviction for endangering the welfare of children, you may still be able to seal your record through an Act 5 petition to the court. While the process is not automatic, Act 5 applies to a wider range of convictions. You may qualify to file an Act 5 petition if:
- It's been ten years since you completed your sentence, including paying all of your fines,
- Your conviction is for a misdemeanor or ungraded offense punishable by five years or less in prison, and
- You don't get arrested or prosecuted for other crimes punishable by a year or more in jail.
However, some first-degree misdemeanors are never eligible for sealing under Pennsylvania law. These crimes include:
- Dangerous offenses like assault or sexual assault,
- Crimes against family members, including domestic violence, bigamy, incest, and child endangerment,
- Crimes involving firearms,
- Crimes involving dangerous weapons, and
- Crimes involving a minor's corruption, like truancy and statutory rape.
Because “child endangerment” is on the list of first-degree misdemeanors you cannot seal in Pennsylvania, you should consult an experienced Pennsylvania sealing and expungement attorney to see if you qualify and discuss your options.
Sealing Felony Records for Endangering the Welfare of Children
If you have a felony conviction for endangering the welfare of children in Pennsylvania, you cannot seal your record under Clean Slate or an Act 5 petition. In fact, you can only expunge your record under very limited circumstances, including:
- You are 70 or older, and it's been ten years since your criminal case,
- You receive a pardon from the governor, or
- The defendant has been dead for three years.
If you have a felony conviction and want to explore options for cleaning up your criminal record, you should consult an experienced Pennsylvania pardon and expungement attorney.
You Need an Experienced Pennsylvania Sealing and Expungement Attorney
Figuring out the best option for sealing or expunging your indecent assault record can be frustrating. That's why using an attorney well-versed in Pennsylvania record sealing is your most efficient option. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the skilled team at the Lento Law Firm have been helping people in Pennsylvania seal and expunge their arrest and criminal records for years. Find out how they can help you too. Call the Lento Law Firm at 888.535.3686 to schedule a consultation, or contact them online today.