Sealing or Expunging a Criminal Record in Pennsylvania
A criminal record can follow you around for years, making it difficult to find the job you want, to get credit, or to live where you want to live. If you qualify, however, you can have your criminal record expunged, or sealed, so that it may only be viewed “by law enforcement officers acting in the lawful performance of their duties” or during the application process if you seek employment with a law enforcement agency. What are the requirements to be eligible for expungement, and how does the process work?
Under the Delaware Code, there are three specific situations where a criminal record can be expunged:
- If you are acquitted at trial
- If the state enters a notice that it is dropping the charges
- If the court dismisses the charges against you
A criminal record may only be expunged if there are no convictions on your record. If you have an old conviction, you will not be able to pursue expungement.
If any of the above results occur, you may file a Petition for Expungement with the Superior Court, asking that your records be sealed. Once you file, the court must either take the matter under consideration within 30 days (for juvenile offenses) or the district attorney must file objections within 30 days, and request a hearing. The decision to expunge or seal your records is still at the discretion of the Superior Court. If the court agrees and enters an order to expunge your record, all copies of your criminal record are supposed to be destroyed or erased from any database, with the exception of one copy, which remains on file, but sealed, with the Supervisor of the State Bureau of Identification.
Once you have determined that you qualify, you should file your petition as soon as possible, so that it is not accessible to potential employers, landlords or creditors. It is always good practice to verify that your criminal record has in fact been sealed. Your attorney can help you do this.
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At Barnard, Mezzanotte, Pinnie, Seelaus & Kraft LLP, we have protected the rights of individuals throughout Pennsylvania since 1980. We offer a free initial consultation. To schedule an appointment, call us at 610-565-4055 or 302-594-4535 or contact us online.
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