PA “Clean Slate Bill” Provides LIMITED Relief to Individuals Convicted of Certain Misdemeanors More Than Ten Years Ago
Sealing a Criminal Record: The Pennsylvania Clean Slate Bill, passed in 2017, provides for sealing of most summary and criminal offenses after ten (10) years, where the defendant has not incurred new felony or misdemeanor convictions. The Pennsylvania Senate ordered creation of an automated process that will automatically apply the rule effective June 2019 and June 2020. Individuals who are seeking to take advantage of the “Clean Slate” bill may petition the court seal their criminal record where applicable.
Your Criminal Record is still Visible to Federal and State Law Enforcement
“Your Criminal Record is still Visible to State and Federal Law Enforcement.”
The fundamental difference between the “Clean Slate” bill and a standard expungement, is that your criminal record will still be accessible to federal and state authorities. The bill only seals your criminal record to the public. Therefore, even after your record is sealed law enforcement, federal employers, and anyone who utilizes and FBI background check may still have access to your criminal record. Individuals who do not utilize an FBI criminal background check will have restricted access and probably will not be able to view your criminal record. In many expungements, the government states they remove all records of arrest but the reality is that certain government agencies retain records of these matters. Therefore, while the “Clean Slate” bill may reduce the footprint of your criminal record it will not be entirely destroyed. You can search for your criminal record in Pennsylvania here.
Eligibility is Mostly Non-Violent Misdemeanors and Summary Offenses
The Clean Slate Bill applies to individuals convicted of summary and misdemeanors offenses with many exceptions for misdemeanor conviction that are ineligible. Most ineligible offenses relate to violent and dangerous crimes, or crimes that relate to sex offenses. Speak with an attorney to ascertain whether your misdemeanor or summary conviction is eligible for sealing. Before your record is sealed, you must pay fines and court costs related to your criminal conviction. Remember, that even if you seal your record it will not be destroyed and will still be accessible to state and federal law authorities. Therefore, there is a significant question as to whether it is worth expending substantial resources to seal your record. The Bill may be worthwhile to individuals looking to seek employment from private employers or obtain housing.
In Pennsylvania, once your criminal record is expunged and/or sealed the individual is not usually obligated to disclose the existence of that criminal record.
Some may argue that the “Clean Slate” Bill is form without substance. The Bill does not expunge any criminal records. What this means is that even after your record is “sealed” it will be visible to law enforcement and state and federal government actors. However, the Bill may be useful to individuals who have built momentum in their lives since an arrest, and want to move on from a criminal conviction. The Bill should make it more difficult for prospective employers to find your criminal record if the offense was a non-violent misdemeanor that occurred more than ten (10) years ago. If your record has not been sealed and you believe you may be eligible, speak with a Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney about filing a Petition to Seal Criminal Record.