Washington County is located on the western border of Pennsylvania, sharing a border with the state of West Virginia. The county has over 208,00 residents within it's cities and townships. These residents are served in all matters of the law by the Washington County Court of Common Pleas, located in Washington, PA. This court is responsible for holding legal authority over the county, and also maintaining and keeping any records of arrests or criminal convictions within the county. Clearing one's name involves petitioning this very court with the appropriate motion to expunge or seal their records.
Washington County Expungements
When a person seeks to file for an expungement in Washington County, they must first determine whether or not they have met the state's guidelines for expungement. Pennsylvania's requirements to be eligible for expungement are strict. A person may expunge their record if:
- If they were offered to participate in an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program in lieu of suffering a conviction, and have completed the program.
- If they are over 70 years old and have not faced any criminal proceedings for at least ten (10) years.
- If they were convicted on a summary offense, have fulfilled their sentences, and have not faced additional criminal charges for at least (10) years.
- If a person was arrested, but the criminal charges were, for example, dismissed by the Washington County Court, or withdrawn by the Washington County District Attorney's Office, these charges may be eligible for expungement; the appropriate form of relief for charges that were dismissed or withdrawn in some instances may be a "redaction," also known as a "partial" expungement.
- If a person went to trial, for example, at the Washington County District Court level or, as would more often be the case, at the Court of Common Pleas in Washington, and was found not guilty of a charge or charges, such criminal charges will be eligible to be expunged.
Washington County Juvenile Records
Facing criminal charges or being arrested while under the age of 18 will cause a person to have a juvenile record created in most instances. Many often believe that these records have an expiration date of a person's 18th birthday, however, this is untrue. A juvenile record left alone can interfere with a person's life goals long after their 18th birthday has passed. Fortunately, Pennsylvania is more lenient when allowing a person to expunge a juvenile record. The following circumstances may permit a person to expunge a juvenile record:
- A person has been convicted of a juvenile offense, and at least five (5) years have passed since they have served their sentence.
- A person has been placed under juvenile supervision and at least six (6) months have passed since the supervision was completed.
- A person is over the age of 18 and has convinced the court to grant an expungement through their argument.
- A person was arrested on juvenile charges, but the charges were dismissed or withdrawn.
Washington County Record Sealing
When a person has more serious records and convictions in Washington County, they may expunge their records through a different process than expungement. This process relies on the use of Pennsylvania's "Limited Access" laws. These laws will prevent access to a person's records in when a successful motion is filed. A person's 3rd degree, 2nd degree, and ungraded misdemeanor records may be expunged under this process. A person must have fulfilled their sentence, as well as a ten (10) year waiting period without further criminal offenses against them in order to be eligible. Although certain misdemeanor convictions are specifically prohibited by statute from sealing, if a person meets all eligibility requirements otherwise, most ungraded, 2nd degree, and 3rd-degree misdemeanor convictions will be able to be sealed.
Clearing Your Criminal Record in Washington, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Expungement Process in Wellsboro
When expunging a criminal record in Washington County, whether as an adult, juvenile or after ARD is complete or sealing a criminal record in Washington County, the Washington County Court of Common Pleas will be where the matter is addressed; 1 S. Main Street, Washington, PA 15301.
The person seeking the expungement or criminal record sealing inWashington County will be the "petitioner" in the case, and the Washington County District Attorney's Office will be the "respondent." The District Attorney's Office is located in the Washington County Courthouse; the mailing address is 1 South Main Street, Suite 1003, Washington, Pennsylvania 15301.
The process for an expungement or criminal record sealing in Washington County will proceed without issue in most instances if the Washington 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 in Washington, PA, will depend on the specifics of the Washington 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 Washington County as comprehensively as possible.
Because the Washington 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 Washington County Clerk of Courts requires one (1) original pleading unlike most Pennsylvania counties, with the petitioning party being responsible for serving the Washington County District Attorney's Office.
Finding the Best Attorney for Washington County Expungement | Lawyer for Washington County Record Sealing
Sealing and expunging one's records are crucial for anyone who wishes to avoid employment issues or gain advancement in their career through education or professional licensure. Prior records of arrests or criminal offenses can be a severe hindrance to anyone seeking to move on with their life. When a person attempts to file these motions on their own, however, the courts will seldom provide adequate direction for them to do so. Errors and missteps in the process can lead to frustration and delay; if not an outright denial of relief. For this reason, it is best to consult with an attorney when conducting an expungement filing. An experienced Pennsylvania expungement attorney can help maximize the chances of success.
If you or a loved one is seeking an expungement in Washington County, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.