If you have a criminal conviction on your record in the state of Pennsylvania, then you are likely wondering what it would take to remove that conviction and its negative effects. A criminal conviction can limit your ability to get certain employment, apply for certain housing, and earn state licensing for many employment areas. In Pennsylvania, you can have a criminal conviction removed from the public view through a Governor's pardon, through the record sealing process, or through an expungement. This article will describe how a pardon can affect an expungement in Pennsylvania.
What Is a Pardon?
A pardon is a ruling that erases a conviction from an individual's record and further considers the individual as innocent as if he or she never committed the offense. Getting a pardon restores the rights lost due to a conviction. One example of this is gun rights. If an individual is convicted of certain crimes in Pennsylvania, then he or she will lose their legal right to own or even possess a gun. Convictions also have negative effects on the ability to earn a variety of state licenses.
The Pennsylvania Constitution gives the state Governor the authority to grant pardons to those with convictions, but only if a favorable recommendation from the Board of Pardons. The Board of Pardons is an executive board that consists of the Lieutenant Governor, the Attorney General, and three members that are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. These appointed members must be a corrections expert, a crime victim representative, and a doctor that is either a psychiatrist or a psychologist. Appointed members of the Board of Pardons serve six-year terms. If you are interested in seeking a pardon, then it is important to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney.
What Is an Expungement?
In order to remove a criminal conviction from your public criminal record in Pennsylvania, you must go through the expungement or record sealing process. Up until 2015, expungements were not available in Pennsylvania. That changed in 2015 when the state allowed its courts to limit public access to specific convictions. These laws were expanded in 2018, further allowing for the sealing of first-degree misdemeanors and other low-level offenses. An automated record sealing process was also enacted in 2018, allowing for criminal convictions to be sealed without a petition after specified periods have passed, depending on the crime. Record sealing is not available for specific criminal offenses that involve violence, guns, or sexual misconduct that can result in more than two years in state prison. Minor convictions are eligible for expungement once five years have passed.
These are just some of the ways that Pennsylvania's sealing and expungement laws have recently changed. Make sure you direct any sealing or expungement-related questions to an experienced criminal defense attorney. Successful sealing and expungements will result in convictions on an individual's record being removed from the public eye. Certain government agencies, such as law enforcement or a prosecutor, can access a private database that keeps a record of all criminal offenses even if a conviction is sealed or expunged.
Can You Get an Expungement After Getting a Pardon?
If you are granted a pardon, then you are treated as if you never committed the crime, and all of your rights that you had previous to the conviction are restored. If you have a separate conviction after getting a pardon, then you can seek expungement (or record sealing) of that conviction as long as it is eligible. The process to get a pardon differs from an expungement, as expungements in Pennsylvania are considered and granted by a court, not by the Governor. Expungements are more limited in eligibility and are only available for specific crimes. You must also wait specified periods before petitioning for an expungement, depending on the nature and seriousness of the offense. Pardons can be requested at any time but require a “reasonable” amount of time to pass before making the request. If you are granted a pardon of a specific conviction, then you are also entitled to a judicial expungement upon petition. In 2020, Pennsylvania law was amended to automatically seal any pardoned conviction.
How an Experienced Attorney Can Help
The rules around pardons, record sealing, and expungement in Pennsylvania are unique and can be confusing. Each state has its own individual laws and standards that determine the process and eligibility to remove a criminal conviction from the public view. It is important to have your situation professionally assessed to determine what you are eligible for and what approach you should take to clear your criminal record from the public view. Having an experienced attorney on your side can help you avoid making the mistakes that many make when they seek a pardon, sealing, or expungement on their own. It is your choice how to approach getting your criminal conviction removed from public view, but you don't typically get more than one opportunity to make the request to the appropriate agency, whether it is the office of the state Governor or the local court. Make sure you do it correctly the first time. If you have questions, then call us at the Lento Law firm today!
Why Hiring Lento Law Firm is the Right Choice
If you are looking to pardon or expunge a prior conviction from your criminal record in Pennsylvania, then having an experienced expungement attorney on your side can help you avoid the mistakes that many make when applying to remove a conviction. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to learn why hiring us is the right choice to help you prepare and file your application for a pardon or expungement in Pennsylvania. You can also contact us online.