Limited Access to Misdemeanors

UPDATE: On February 16, Governor Wolf signed a law granting limited access to misdemeanors, which will take effect in 270 days. Those who are eligible, and obtain who obtain relief under this law will be able to avoid the impediments to employment and housing. This new law will allow eligible individuals to petition the court to seal their criminal history from the public.

Criminal justice reform in Pennsylvania took a step forward yesterday when the legislature passed a bill which will allow limited access to misdemeanors. If approved, individuals with certain low-level misdemeanors on their criminal records could petition the court to request “an order of limited access” to those records, provided that they have remained crime-free for a period of at least ten years. If Senate Bill 166 is signed into law by the governor, the measure will apply for those convicted of misdemeanors of the second or third degree, or certain ungraded misdemeanors. The types of misdemeanor charges eligible for relief include, but are not limited to: DUI, Possession of Marijuana, Disorderly Conduct, Retail Theft, and Bad Checks.

Limited Access to Misdemeanors

This order for limited access is not an expungement, and those who qualify for relief must meet certain requirements. They can have no more than four of such convictions, and they may not have any convictions for offenses which carry a maximum of more than two years’ incarceration on their record. The records will be available to law enforcement agencies and other state agencies, but an individual who obtains relief will not need to disclose those convictions on job applications, for example. Additionally, those records will not be available to the general public from the court.

Once in effect, this legislation will relieve the burden of disclosing old, low level offenses for thousands of Pennsylvanians who may have made some mistakes in the past but who have maintained crime-free lifestyles for a significant period of time.

The experienced attorneys at The Mazza Law Group, P.C. are watching this legislation carefully and will be prepared to file petitions for limited access as soon as the provision becomes effective. If you have an offense on your record that doesn’t reflect the good person you are today, stay tuned, we may be able to help!

Limited Access to Misdemeanors was last modified: February 18th, 2016 by Helen Stolinas