If you've got a conviction for deceptive or fraudulent business practices on your record, you may be concerned about how this will affect your personal and professional future. If you work in business, your reputation can be everything. Fortunately, we have several options in Pennsylvania to help clean up your criminal arrest and court records. You may be eligible to have your record automatically sealed after five to ten years under Pennsylvania's Clean Slate legislation, or you may be able to petition the court to limit public access to your records under Act 5.
Pennsylvania Statute for Deceptive or Fraudulent Business Practices
The Pennsylvania statute for deceptive or fraudulent business practices is extensive. You may be guilty of deceptive or fraudulent business practices if you:
- Use or possess a device for falsely weighing, measuring, or recording quality or quantity,
- Sell, offer, or deliver less than you represent of any commodity or service quantity.
- Take or attempt to take more than the represented quantity of a commodity or service when you are furnishing the weight or measure as the buyer,
- Sell, offer, or expose for sale altered or mislabeled commodities, varying from accepted commercial usage,
- Make a false or misleading statement in an ad to the public promoting the sale or purchase of property or services,
- Make or induce others to rely on a false or misleading written statement to obtain property or credit,
- Make or induce others to rely on a false or misleading statement to promote the sale of securities or omits information required by law in written documents relating to securities,
- Make or induce others to rely on a “false or misleading material statement to induce an investor to invest in a business venture,” regardless of whether the investor invests.
- Obtain or attempt to obtain someone else's property through “false or misleading representations” through communications in whole or in part on the phone involving express or implied claims that someone has won a prize, can recover losses associated with a prize promotion, or the value of goods or services offered in a prize promotion, or
- Provide false or misleading information to the accountant in connection with the “performance of an attestation function for the client,” resulting in an attestation by the accountant of a “materially misleading financial statement, audit, review, or other document,” or
- Fail to provide information to the accountant which you know is “material to the performance of an attestation function,” resulting in an attestation by the accountant of a “materially misleading financial statement, audit, review, or other documents.”
18 Pa. Stat. § 4107 (2004).
Penalties for Deceptive Business Practices in Pennsylvania
How a deceptive business practices charge is graded will depend on the facts and circumstances of your case, but charges can range from a summary offense to a second-degree felony.
- Fraudulent or Deceptive Business Practices Misdemeanor Penalties Engaging in fraudulent or deceptive business practices is a first-degree misdemeanor if the amount in question is $200 or more and less than $2,000. A conviction for a first-degree misdemeanor is punishable by a fine of $1,500 to $10,000 and up to five years in prison. The crime is a second-degree misdemeanor if the police can't satisfactorily determine the amount of money involved or if the amount involved is less than $200. In Pennsylvania, a conviction for a second-degree misdemeanor is punishable by a fine of $500 to $5,000 and up to two years in prison. If the victim is 60 or older, the grading of the offense increases by one degree. This makes a second-degree misdemeanor into a first-degree misdemeanor, and a first-degree misdemeanor becomes a third-degree felony.
- Fraudulent or Deceptive Business Practices Felony Penalties Under Pennsylvania law, engaging in fraudulent or deceptive business practices is a third-degree felony if the amount involved is more than $2,000. A third-degree felony conviction is punishable by a fine of $2,500 to $15,000 and up to seven years in prison in Pennsylvania. However, if the victim is 60 or older, it becomes a second-degree felony punishable by up to ten years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
Sealing Your Record for Fraudulent or Deceptive Business Practices Through Clean Slate
In 2019, the Pennsylvania legislature passed groundbreaking new legislation designed to give Pennsylvanians with criminal records a second chance. This “Clean Slate” legislation allows the state to automatically seal arrest and criminal records after a five to ten-year waiting period. You may qualify for automatic, Clean Slate sealing if:
- Your conviction for fraudulent business practices was a summary offense,
- Your conviction was a second-degree misdemeanor or a third-degree misdemeanor,
- Your conviction was for an ungraded misdemeanor punishable by two years or less in prison, or
- You don't have a conviction because the court found you not guilty or the prosecutor dropped the charges.
If you have a summary conviction or a second or third-degree conviction for fraudulent or deceptive business practices, you may be eligible to seal your records under Clean Slate. However, you may also be eligible to expunge your summary conviction, eliminating your criminal record rather than concealing it. You should consult an experienced Pennsylvania sealing and expungement lawyer to explore your best options.
Sealing Your Record for Fraudulent or Deceptive Business Practices with an Act 5 Petition
Some misdemeanor convictions don't qualify for automatic sealing with Clean Slate. For example, if you have a first-degree misdemeanor conviction, punishable by up to five years in prison, you won't qualify. However, you may be able to petition the court to seal your record under Act 5. While this sealing doesn't happen automatically, it applies to a wider range of convictions than Clean Slate.
You may petition the court to seal your records under Act 5 if:
- Your fraudulent or deceptive business practices conviction is for a first-degree misdemeanor or ungraded conviction punishable by five years or less in prison,
- You've waited ten years since completing your sentence and paying all your fines, and
- During the ten-year waiting period, you don't have any arrests or prosecutions for crimes punishable by a year or more in jail.
Some first-degree misdemeanors involving violence or serious crimes like assault aren't eligible for sealing. Felonies aren't eligible for sealing either, except under very limited circumstances. So, if you have a second or third-degree felony conviction for fraudulent or deceptive business practices, it's unlikely you can seal it. However, you should consult an experienced sealing and expungement lawyer to explore all your options.
You Need an Experienced Pennsylvania Sealing Attorney
If you have a conviction for fraudulent or deceptive business practices in Pennsylvania and you'd like to explore your options for cleaning up your record, you need an experienced Pennsylvania sealing and expungement lawyer. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the skilled team at the Lento Law Firm have been helping people like you for years. Call them at 888.535.3686 to schedule a consultation, or contact them online today.