Somerset County is located on the southern border of Pennsylvania, sharing borders with Maryland. The county is home to over 75,000 residents within its boroughs and townships. The county is served by the Somerset County Court of Common Pleas, located in Somerset, PA. The court is responsible for maintaining legal authority within the county, along with holding records of criminal convictions and arrests. When a person seeks to clear their name of these records, they must file the appropriate motion with this court.
Somerset County Expungements
When a person seeks to file an expungement in Somerset County, they must first be sure to adhere to Pennsylvania law for eligibility. The state permits individuals to expunge their records once they have met certain requirements. State requirements for expungement include:
- A person is over 70 years old and has not faced any criminal matters for at least ten (10) years
- A person has completed an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program and is not currently facing any current criminal matters.
- A person was convicted on a summary offense and has not faced any criminal proceedings for at least five (5) years.
- If a person went to trial, for example, at the Somerset County District Court level or, as would more likely be the case, at the Court of Common Pleas in Somerset, and was found not guilty of a charge or charges, such criminal charges will be eligible to be expunged.
- If a person was arrested, but the criminal charges were, for example, dismissed by the Somerset County Court, or withdrawn by the Somerset County District Attorney's Office, these charges may be eligible for expungement; the appropriate form of relief for charges that were dismissed or withdrawn in some instances may be a "partial" expungement, also known as a "redaction."
Somerset County Juvenile Expungements
When a person faces criminal charges or is arrested as a juvenile, the court will create a juvenile record for the incident. Many youths engage in risky behavior; often not understanding that their records will remain after they turn 18. The popular misconception that juvenile records will simply "expire" conceals the truth of the matter: these records should be expunged just as a person's adult records should be, lest they interfere with their lives at a later time. Fortunately, Pennsylvania's requirements for juvenile expungements are more lenient than those for adult records. The requirements are:
- A person that was convicted on a juvenile offense may expunge their record after five (5) years have passed since they have served their sentence without additional criminal matters.
- A person that was arrested on juvenile charges, but later had the charges dropped may be eligible to expunge the arrest record.
- A person that was placed under court supervision, and fulfilled the supervisory period may be able to expunge their record once six (6) months have passed without additional criminal matters.
- A person that is over the age of 18 may expunge their record if the court approves of their petition to do so.
Somerset County Record Sealing
If a person has more serious records in Somerset County, they may be able to use a separate process to seal them under Pennsylvania's "Limited Access" laws. These laws will prevent a person's records within the county from being accessed during a background check. In order for a person to be eligible to have their records sealed, they must not have faced any additional criminal proceedings for at least ten (10) years time. In addition, the records in question must be at the level of a 2nd degree, 3rd degree, or ungraded level misdemeanor offense. Depending on the specific offense and the person's particular circumstances, some exceptions may exist as to which specific charges will be eligible to be sealed.
Clearing Your Criminal Record in Somerset, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Expungement Process in Somerset
When expunging a criminal record in Somerset County, whether as an adult, juvenile, or after ARD is complete or sealing a criminal record in Somerset County, the Somerset County Court of Common Pleas will be where the matter is addressed. The Somerset County Court of Common Pleas is located at 111 E. Union Street, Somerset, PA 15501.
The person seeking the expungement or criminal record sealing in Somerset County will be the "petitioner" in the case, and the Somerset County District Attorney's Office will be the "respondent." The Somerset County District Attorney's Office is located on the ground floor of the Somerset County Courthouse; the mailing address is 111 East Union Street, Suite 30, Somerset, PA 15501.
The process for an expungement or criminal record sealing in Somerset County will proceed without issue in most instances if the Somerset County District Attorney's Office does not object to the expungement petition or limited access petition pursuant to Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure. The specific Pennsylvania expungement or limited access law which will apply to the request for relief filed will depend on the specifics of the Somerset County criminal case itself: either Pa.R.Crim.P. 490 for summary offense expungements; Pa.R.Crim.P. 790 for standard criminal record expungements; Pa.R.Crim.P. 791 and 18 Pa.C.S. § 9122.1 in cases involving record sealing; or 18 Pa.C.S. § 9123 in cases involving juvenile records. In some instances, requesting relief based upon a combination of these Rules is sometimes required to clear a Pennsylvania criminal record in Somerset County as comprehensively as possible.
Because the Somerset County Court will most often decide a request for an expungement or record sealing "on the pleadings," meaning that judgment will be made on a proper petition, order, and related pleadings, persons seeking to clear their record per Pennsylvania law must make sure that their request is properly handled in all respects, and to an exacting degree. In addition, the Somerset County Clerk of Courts requires one (1) original pleading unlike most Pennsylvania counties, with the petitioning party being responsible for serving the Somerset County District Attorney's Office.
Finding the Best Attorney for Somerset County Expungement | Attorney for Somerset County Record Sealing
When a person wishes to advance their career through education or professional licensure, they may find that their prior criminal or arrest records stand in the way of their progress. The filing for an expungement or record sealing can be a confusing and frustrating process for individuals who are unfamiliar with the inner workings of the court. Any missteps in the process can cause a person to experience delays in their desired results. For this reason, it may be best to have these motions filed by an attorney, and an experienced Pennsylvania expungement attorney can help.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento has a proven record of success helping clients with clearing their records throughout Pennsylvania, and as importantly, he personally handles all clients' expungements and record sealings from start to finish. If you or a loved one is in need of an expungement or record sealing in Somerset County, PA, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.