Whether you made some poor choices in your youth or you were involved in an isolated unfortunate incident, you do not want any record of a criminal charge to haunt you for the remainder of your life. A criminal record can have a negative impact on your ability to gain employment, housing, or public benefits.
The good news is that Pennsylvania does allow certain people to petition for expungement, meaning their juvenile or adult criminal records are sealed such that future employers or landlords will not see any convictions that have been expunged. However, this process can be extremely complicated, and it may take several months or possibly even years to finally get a record expunged.
Under Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes (C.S.) Title 18 § 9122, a criminal record may be expunged when:
- No disposition was received or recorded within 18 months after the date of arrest and the court certifies that no disposition is available and no action is pending
- A court order requires nonconviction data be expunged
- A person 21 years of age or older convicted of a violation relating to purchase, consumption, possession, or transportation of alcohol on or after the day he or she turned 18 years of age who has satisfied all terms and conditions of the sentence imposed for the violation
- A person who has reached 70 years of age and free of arrest or prosecution for 10 years following final release from confinement or supervision
- A person who has been dead for three years
- A person who has been free of arrest or prosecution for five years following conviction for the summary offense he or she is seeking to have expunged
- A person accepted into the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program who has paid all fines and completed all terms and conditions of his or her probation
Not everyone is able to have his or criminal record expunged. Under Pennsylvania C.S. Title 18 § 9122(b.1), state courts do not have the authority to expunge the records of any person who was placed into the ARD program for any of the following violations in which the victim was under 18 years of age:
- Rape, Pennsylvania C.S. Title 18 § 3121
- Statutory sexual assault, Pennsylvania C.S. Title 18 § 3122.1
- Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse, Pennsylvania C.S. Title 18 § 3123
- Sexual Assault, Pennsylvania C.S. Title 18 § 3124.1
- Aggravated Indecent Assault, Pennsylvania C.S. Title 18 § 3125
- Indecent Assault, Pennsylvania C.S. Title 18 § 3126
- Indecent Exposure, Pennsylvania C.S. Title 18 § 3127
- Prostitution and related offenses, Pennsylvania C.S. Title 18 § 5902(b)
- Obscene and other sexual materials and performances, Pennsylvania C.S. Title 18 § 5903
It can be difficult to get your record expunged, but the rewards are generally worth the effort if you are eligible for the process. By having any conviction or arrest expunged, you no longer have to live with fears of your criminal record interfering in any future jobs, leasing, or other applications.