The Pennsylvania Clean Slate Law went into effect June 2019 and is an automatic process by the courts to limit access to certain criminal records. Some records of minor offenses will be “sealed” or removed from public record.
There are strict criteria that the courts follow, but it is an automatic process – so you do not have to apply or file anything to have certain records removed from public access.
THIS IS NOT THE SAME AS AN EXPUNGEMENT.
The types of cases that will be automatically removed from a public docket include: offenses with no conviction (i.e. withdrawn, dismissed, not guilty), summary convictions more than 10 years old and misdemeanor or ungraded offenses ONLY IF an individual has been free of any other conviction for 10 years. In all instances, any court fines or fees will have to be paid in full before the record is sealed. Some 1st grade misdemeanor offenses will require the filing of a petition to have the record sealed.
How does this affect you? The Pennsylvania court docket access is available to anyone – potential employers, landlords, school administrations, loan officers etc. So, say you were charged with an underage drinking offense 10 years ago in college or maybe you were cited but criminal charges were withdrawn due to a misunderstanding; these will be eligible to be removed from public docket access. By removing minor offenses from the public view, you get a “clean slate” when applying for a job or renting an apartment, etc.
The records will still be available through an FBI background check. So, if you are applying for a federal job, need child abuse clearance or a gun permit, the charges will show up to the requestor of your criminal record.
To remove criminal charges completely from your record you will need to petition the courts for an expungement. Again, there are specific requirements to seek an expungement. You will need to hire an attorney to prepare and file the petition and there is a filing fee.
The courts in all Pennsylvania counties have until the end of June 2020 to comply with this new law. Contact Evashavik Law, LLC and we can check the docket to see if you have any criminal offenses that should be removed under the Clean Slate Law and can advise you if they will be automatically sealed or if a petition for expungement will need to be filed.