Westmoreland County is located in the southwestern region of Pennsylvania. The county is home to over 357,000 residents within its bounds. The county's populace is served in all legal matters by the Westmoreland County Court of Common Pleas, located in Greensburg, PA. The court holds legal authority within the county and also maintains all records of criminal convictions or arrests within the county. An individual who wishes to clear their name within the county must petition this court through the appropriate means.
Westmoreland County Expungement
Before a person may expunge their records in Westmoreland County, they must first meet the State's requirements for expungement. Pennsylvania presents defendants with narrow circumstances under which they may expunge a record. These circumstances include:
- An individual was convicted of a summary offense, has fulfilled their sentencing, and five (5) years have passed without any additional criminal offenses.
- An individual is over the age of 70 and has not faced any criminal proceedings for at least ten (10) year.
- An individual was offered a chance to participate in an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program to avoid a conviction and has completed the program.
- If a person went to trial, for example, at the Westmoreland County District Court level or, as would more likely be the case, at the Court of Common Pleas in Greensburg, 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- If a person was arrested, but the criminal charges were, for example, dismissed by the Westmoreland County Court, or withdrawn by the Westmoreland County District Attorney's Office, these charges may be eligible for expungement; the appropriate form of relief for charges that were dismissed or withdrawn in some instances may be a "redaction," also known as a "partial" expungement.
Westmoreland County Juvenile Expungements
If a person is arrested or has faced criminal charges in before turning the age of 18, their records will likely be classified as juvenile records within the court. Contrary to popular belief, these records will not simply drop off or expire on a person's coming of age. In fact, these records should be treated the same as adult records, and be expunged. Pennsylvania is much more lenient on the expungement of juvenile records and presents persons with wider circumstances to expunge them. These can include:
- A person has come of age, petitioned the court for an expungement, and through the strength of their argument has convinced the court to grant the relief.
- A person was convicted on juvenile offense, has fulfilled their sentence, and at least five (5) years have passed since without additional criminal proceedings.
- A person was arrested on juvenile charges, had the charges dropped, and is no longer facing any criminal charges.
- A person was placed under a court-ordered supervision, has completed the supervision, and at least six (6) months have passed without additional criminal incident.
Westmoreland County Record Sealing
For more serious offenses, Pennsylvania law offers a different solution. This process is known as record sealing, and it uses the state's "Limited Access" laws as its basis. A successful motion for record sealing will prevent a person's records from being accessed during most background checks. In order to be eligible, a person must not have faced criminal proceedings for at least ten (10) years' time. Also, only 2nd degree, 3rd degree, and ungraded misdemeanors may be expunged. Certain misdemeanor convictions are specifically prohibited by the Pennsylvania's Limited Access statute, but if conditions are met otherwise, most ungraded, 2nd-degree and 3rd-degree misdemeanor convictions will be eligible to be sealed.
Clearing Your Criminal Record in Greensburg, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Expungement Process in Greensburg
When expunging a criminal record in Westmoreland County, whether as an adult, juvenile or after ARD is complete or sealing a criminal record in Westmoreland County, the Westmoreland County Court of Common Pleas will be where the matter is addressed. The Court of Common Pleas is located at 2 N. Main Street, Greensburg, PA 15601.
The person seeking the expungement or criminal record sealing in Westmoreland County will be the "petitioner" in the case, and the Westmoreland County District Attorney's Office will be the "respondent." The District Attorney's Office is located in the in the Westmoreland County Courthouse; the mailing address is 2 N. Main Street, #206, Greensburg, PA 1560
The process for an expungement or criminal record sealing in Westmoreland County will proceed without issue in most instances if the Westmoreland 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 Greensburg, PA, will depend on the specifics of the Westmoreland 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 Westmoreland County as comprehensively as possible.
Because the Westmoreland 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, Westmoreland County Clerk of Courts requires one (1) original pleading unlike most Pennsylvania counties, with the petitioning party being responsible for serving the Westmoreland County District Attorney's Office.
Finding the Best Attorney for Westmoreland County Expungement | Attorney for Westmoreland County Record Sealing
Record sealing and expungement are of utmost importance to individuals with prior criminal records. These records can serve as a roadblock on a person's way to success in pursuing better employment prospects, higher education, or maintaining a professional license. When a person attempts to conduct these filings on their own, the court may not provide adequate direction on how to do so. This can lead to error, which can lead to delays; if not an outright denial of relief. To reduce the potential for error and to maximize the prospect of success, it is best to contact an experienced Pennsylvania expungement attorney when filing these motions.
If you or a loved one is seeking an expungement in Greensburg or Westmoreland County, PA, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.