Sealing Your Misdemeanor Criminal Record in Pennsylvania

When you're facing prosecution for a crime in Pennsylvania, you're no doubt worried about the immediate possible consequences of a conviction, including jail time or a fine. But even if you're facing a misdemeanor, a criminal record will follow you for years to come. A criminal conviction can affect your education, your ability to get a loan, and even your ability to pursue certain careers.

While Pennsylvania law allows some people to expunge their criminal records, not all misdemeanors are eligible for expungement. In these cases, you may be able to limit public access to your record even if you aren't eligible to expunge or remove your record.

Clean Slate Limited Access Sealing

Pennsylvania law allows some records to be automatically shielded from public view under the state's Clean Slate legislation. While sealing doesn't expunge or destroy your misdemeanor record, it can limit the public's access to your records. This automatic sealing happens ten years after the completion of your sentence if you haven't faced conviction for any additional crimes punishable by a year or more in prison.

Act 5 Limited Access Sealing in Pennsylvania

Act 5 under Pennsylvania criminal code also permits sealing criminal records in Pennsylvania. Sealing your record under Act 5 is not an automatic process. While some forms of expungement and sealing under Pennsylvania's Clean Slate program happen automatically after the appropriate period of time has passed, you will need to apply for Act 5 limited access sealing. Act 5 can seal many of the same records, and some additional records, and you may be able to seal your records sooner through this process.

Typically, you can seal most second and third-degree misdemeanors and ungraded offenses that carry a maximum sentence of no more than two years in prison. In some cases, you may also be able to seal a first-degree misdemeanor if it is punishable by less than five years in prison.

Some offenses that may be eligible for sealing in Pennsylvania include:

  1. Offenses Against Stability of the Government
  • Offenses against the flag
  • Offenses Involving Danger to the Person
    • Simple Assault
    • Recklessly Endangering Another Person
    • Propulsion of missiles into an occupied vehicle or onto a roadway
    • Paintball guns and paintball markers
    • Harassment
    • Ethnic Intimidation
    • Neglect of care-dependent person
    • Abuse of care-dependent person
    • Strangulation
    • Hazing
    • Interference with custody of children
    • Interference with custody of committed persons
    • Criminal Coercion
    • Nonpayment of Wages
    • Indecent Assault
  • Offenses Against Property
    • Failure to prevent catastrophe
    • Criminal Mischief
    • Injuring or tampering with fire apparatus, hydrants, etc.
    • unauthorized use or opening of fire hydrants
    • Institutional vandalism
    • Agricultural vandalism
    • Ecoterrorism
    • Destruction of a survey monument
    • Criminal trespass
    • Railroad protection, railroad vandalism, and interference with transportation facilities
    • Unlawful use of unmanned aircraft
    • Theft & Related Offenses
    • Theft of Services
    • Unauthorized use of automobiles and other vehicles
    • Retail Theft
    • Library theft
    • Theft from a motor vehicle
    • Theft of secondary metal
    • Forgery
    • Simulating objects of antiquity, rarity, etc.
    • Tampering with records or identification
    • Bad checks
    • Access device fraud
    • Deceptive or fraudulent business practices
    • Deception relating to kosher food products
    • Commercial bribery and breach of duty to act disinterestedly
    • Rigging publicly exhibited contest
    • Defrauding secured creditors
    • Fraud in insolvency
    • Receiving deposits in a failing financial institution
    • Misapplication of entrusted property and property of government or financial institutions
    • Securing execution of documents by deception
    • Falsely impersonating persons privately employed
    • Insurance Fraud
    • Identity theft
  • Offenses Against the Family
    • Bigamy
    • Concealing the death of a child
    • Endangering the welfare of children
    • Dealing in infant children
  • Offenses Against Public Administration
    • Threats and other improper influence in official and political matters
    • Retaliation for past official action
    • False swearing
    • Unsworn falsification to authorities
    • False alarms to agencies of public safety
    • False reports to law enforcement authorities
    • Tampering with or fabricating physical evidence
    • Tampering with public records or information
    • Impersonating a public servant
    • Impersonating a notary public or a holder of a professional or occupational license
    • False identification to law enforcement authorities
    • Intimidation of witnesses or victims
    • Retaliation against a witness, victim, or party
    • Obstructing administration of law or other governmental function
    • Obstructing or impeding the administration of justice by picketing, etc.
    • Unlawfully listening into deliberations of a jury
    • Unlawful use of an audio or video device in court
    • Resisting arrest or other law enforcement
    • Hindering apprehension or prosecution
    • Failure to report injuries by firearm or criminal act
    • Aiding consummation of a crime
    • Compounding
    • Barratry
    • Contempt of General Assembly
    • Obstructing emergency services
    • Escape
    • Weapons or implements for escape
    • Default in required appearance
    • Absconding witness
    • Flight to avoid apprehension, trial, or punishment
    • Recruiting criminal gang members
    • Official oppression
    • Speculating or wagering on official action or information
  • Offenses Against Public Order & Decency
    • Failure of disorderly persons to disperse upon official order
    • Disorderly Conduct
    • Public drunkenness and similar misconduct
    • Loitering and prowling at nighttime
    • Obstructing highways and other public passages
    • Disrupting meetings and processions
    • Desecration, theft, or sale of venerated objects
    • Abuse of corpse
    • Unlawful lotteries
    • Pool selling and bookmaking
    • Unauthorized school bus entry
    • Neglect of animal
    • Cruelty to animal
    • Attack of service, guide, or support dog
    • Transporting equine animals in a cruel manner
    • Possession of animal fighting paraphernalia
    • General prohibition on use of certain telecommunications devices
    • Open lewdness
    • Prostitution and related offenses
    • Obscene and other sexual materials and performances
    • Public exhibition of an insane or deformed person
    • Sale or lease of weapons and explosives to minor
    • Sale of starter pistols to minor
    • Sale of air rifles to minor
    • Misrepresentation of age to secure liquor or malt or brewed beverages
    • Representing that minor is of age
    • Inducement of minors to buy liquor or malt or brewed beverages
    • Selling or furnishing liquor or malt or brewed beverages to minors
    • Manufacture or sale of false identification card
    • Carrying a false identification card
    • Tattooing and body piercing a minor
    • Unlawful contact with a minor
    • Transmission of sexually explicit images by minor
    • Scattering rubbish
    • Public nuisances
    • Wearing of uniforms and insignia and misrepresentation of military service or honors
    • Dealing in military decorations
    • False registration of domestic animals
    • Use of union labels
    • Extension of water line
    • Unauthorized sale or transfer of tickets
    • Administering drugs to racehorses
    • Horse racing
    • Fortune telling
    • Unlawful actions by athlete agents
    • Sale and labeling of solidified alcohol
    • Sale or illegal use of certain solvents and noxious substances
    • Incendiary devices
    • Out-of-state convict-made goods
    • Unlawful advertising of insurance business
    • Unlawful coercion in contracting insurance
    • Furnishing free insurance as inducement for purchases
    • Unlawful collection agency practices
    • Debt pooling
    • Buying or exchanging federal supplemental nutrition assistance program (snap) benefit coupons, stamps, authorization cards, or access devices
    • Fraudulent traffic in supplemental nutrition assistance program (snap) benefits
    • Keeping bucket-shop
    • Accessories in the conduct of bucket-shop
    • Maintaining of premises in which bucket-shop operated
    • Bucket-shop contracts
    • Lie detector tests
    • Demanding property to secure employment
    • Discrimination on account of uniform
    • Unlawful sale of dissertations, theses, and term papers
    • Disclosure of confidential tax information
    • Operation of bottle clubs prohibited without local option
    • Interest of certain architects and engineers in public work contracts
    • Appointment of special policemen
    • Breach of privacy by using a psychological-stress evaluator, an audio-stress monitor, or a similar device without consent
    • Invasion of privacy
    • Furnishing drug-free urine
    • Contingent compensation in lobbying
    • Greyhound racing and simulcasting
    • Computer-assisted remote harvesting of animals
    • Unlawful transmission of electronic mail
    • Ungraded offenses punishable by five years or less in prison

    First-Degree Misdemeanors Ineligible for Sealing

    Some first-degree misdemeanors can't be sealed under Pennsylvania law. These offenses include:

    • Weapons-related offenses
    • Sexual offenses
    • Violence against animals
    • Intimidation/retaliation against witnesses
    • Crimes requiring registration as a sex offender
    • Human trafficking-related offenses
    • Kidnapping-related offenses
    • Abortion-related offenses
    • Violence against the family

    An experienced Pennsylvania sealing and expungement lawyer like Joseph D. Lento can let you know whether your record is eligible for sealing and the best way to get started.

    Additional Ineligible Crimes

    Some crimes are almost never eligible for either sealing or expungement, no matter the degree of the crime. These offenses include:

    • Murder
    • First-degree felonies
    • Offenses punishable by more than 20 years in prison in the last 20 years, including:
    • Crimes against the family
    • Sexual offenses
    • Crimes requiring registration as a sex offender
    • Four or more misdemeanors at 2nd degree or

    In some cases, once someone is 70 or has been dead for three years, it may be possible to expunge these crimes.

    Moreover, some first-degree misdemeanors taking place within the last 15 years can't be sealed, including:

    • Four or more misdemeanors of the second-degree or higher
    • Indecent exposure
    • Sexual intercourse with an animal
    • Failure to comply with a requirement to register as a sex offender
    • Weapons or implements of escape
    • Abuse of a corpse
    • Unlawful paramilitary training

    Even if you see a crime listed as ineligible for sealing, it's best to contact an experienced Pennsylvania sealing attorney. Whether you can seal your record depends on several factors, including the degree of the crime, the specific charge, how long it's been since you completed your sentence, and many other factors.

    Hire an Experienced Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney

    It can be challenging to determine whether your misdemeanor arrest or criminal record is eligible for sealing in Pennsylvania. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the skilled team at the Lento Law Firm have been helping Pennsylvanians with sealing criminal matters for years. Find out if a record sealing can help you clear up your misdemeanor record. Call the Lento Law Firm at 888.535.3686 to schedule a consultation or contact them online today.

    Contact Us Today!

    Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the Lento Law Firm today! Criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

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