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Can I Expunge My Criminal Record?

If you meet specific criteria, you can ask a court to expunge your criminal record. Expungement makes a criminal record invisible to the public, improving your chances of getting a job, renting an apartment, and even going to college. Here is what you need to know:

Expungement Is Available In Limited Circumstances

Expungement is not available to everyone. Common eligible offenses include:

  • Minor juvenile offenses: Drug possession, shoplifting and underage drinking, among others
  • ARD offenses: Criminal charges where the defendant successfully completed an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program, including first-time drunk driving charges
  • Summary offenses: Minor charges that did not go to jury trial - including traffic tickets, disorderly conduct, trespass and theft - after five years have passed without another arrest
  • Non-conviction offenses: Criminal charges that did not lead to a conviction

In late 2016, the Pennsylvania Legislature amended the law to allow other individuals - those charged or convicted of most second- or third-degree misdemeanors - to limit access to their information if they have been arrest-free for 10 years or more. This limited access provision allows only law enforcement, state licensing agencies, and other specific entities to access the record.

The Process For Getting An Expungement

In order to get an expungement, you must file a separate petition for every charge on your record. This petition should be filed in the county where your court case took place. There is a filing fee, which varies depending on the county. The district attorney's office will review the petition. If they agree to your request, your record will be expunged. Otherwise, you will need to attend a hearing.

If the district attorney's office has any questions about your expungement, you will receive a hearing date. During this hearing, you and the district attorney will present your case to the judge. The judge will listen and consider a number of factors to determine whether you are eligible for expungement. These factors include, but are not limited to: your age, your criminal record, how long it has been since the case ended and your employment history.

Learn more by visiting our page on expungement or by reading the Pennsylvania Bar Association's expungement pamphlet.

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