“Clean Slate” for Christmas- Sealing of Criminal Convictions

On December 26, 2018, the Clean Slate Act will provide the ability to petition for an order of limited access for convictions of misdemeanors and other ungraded offenses which are punishable by up to five years’imprisonment.  The person must be conviction-free for at least ten years, and must have paid all court fees and fines.  Violent and sexual offenses are not eligible for sealing.

Since November, 2016, individuals with certain misdemeanor convictions punishable by less than two years’ incarceration have been able to apply for an order of limited access, which seals those convictions from public view if they have remained conviction-free for ten years.

The Clean Slate law is being expanded as a result of the enactment of HB1419, with two significant changes taking effect soon. On June 28, 2019 the most significant change under the Clean Slate Act will take effect.  The court will be required to automatically seal offenses punishable by two years or less when the person has remained conviction-free for ten years and has completed all court-ordered financial obligations of their sentence. Violent and sexual offenses will not be automatically sealed.

The expected effect of these laws is to improve the ability of those with old convictions to obtain employment without the concern that an employer will have access to records of an outdated, non-violent offense.  Those who have completed their court ordered conditions and have remained free from re-arrest will be able to live past the stigma associated with having a public criminal record. 

It is important to note that limited access orders sealing criminal records do not expunge or vacate the convictions.  The information will still be available to the court and law enforcement.  Currently,a conviction for a misdemeanor or felony cannot be expunged in Pennsylvania-but an individual can apply for a pardon from the Governor.  Additionally, those who become eligible for expungement (because they have completed ARD, or five years have elapsed since their last summary offense) must still file with the court if they wish the official records of that charge to be destroyed.

While these new laws provide additional opportunities for a“Clean Slate” for individuals with old criminal convictions, they are complex and it can be difficult to determine which forms of relief you may be eligible for.  The criminal defense attorneys at the Mazza Law Group can review your record with you to determine whether you are eligible for a pardon, expungement, automatic sealing, or petition-based sealing.  Call today to make an appointment!