Pennsylvania Broadens Expungement Law

We often receive calls from people looking to have their record expunged.  Typically, the conviction is for a relatively minor misdemeanor from their college or young adult years.  The conviction comes up whenever a background check has been done and, at best, causes them considerable embarrassment.  At worst, it gives a potential employer a reason not to extend a job offer.

Until yesterday, we would have the unhappy duty of telling these folks that if they were convicted of a misdemeanor we couldn’t help them until they reached age 70.  That changed yesterday when Governor Wolf signed Act 5 of 2016 into law.

Now, if someone has been convicted of a second- or third-degree misdemeanor, or an ungraded misdemeanor punishable by no more than two years in jail, and they haven’t been arrested for ten years since their sentence expired, they can seek an Order for Limited Access.  If the Court issues the Order, the person no longer has to disclose the conviction except when requested by law enforcement or other government agencies that need to conduct criminal background checks (such as the Department of Human Services, formerly known as the Department of Public Welfare).

Expungement isn’t automatic, and there are a few exceptions, notably simple assault when it is graded as a second-degree misdemeanor.  But for people with convictions for harassment, criminal mischief, recklessly endangering another person, defiant trespass, minor theft offenses, bad checks, or offenses resulting from common pranks like propulsion of missiles onto a roadway, institutional vandalism, or agricultural vandalism, this new law provides them with a chance to remove a stain or two from their record.

If you or someone you know would like to take advantage of this new law, give us a call.