Having a charge or conviction on your criminal record can be stressful. Proof of criminal activity can make you miss out on housing, employment and educational opportunities. Nonetheless, you’ve already paid your debt to society, and you don’t deserve to keep suffering for the consequences of something you did in the past. That is why you can delete or hide your record from public view and start anew if you are eligible under Pennsylvania’s law.
Expunging your records
In Pennsylvania, those with an arrest or conviction can ask the police to destroy their criminal records. This relief is known as expungement. Once the authorities expunge a record, no one can see it, not even the police. It will be as if the accusation never happened. The authorities won’t allow the expungement of every conviction or charge because only some of them are eligible for this relief. The court may expunge a record if:
- The arrest did not result in a conviction
- The offender committed a single summary offense and has not faced another charge or conviction in the past 5 years
- The offender committed the offense of underage drinking as a juvenile and has not committed another offense
- The offender is over 70 years old and has been free from prosecution for 10 years
The court will order the destruction of a person’s criminal record if they meet all the law’s requirements. If you believe your case qualifies for expungement, you must file a petition with the court.
Sealing your records
Sealing your records means that your records won’t be accessible to the general public anymore. However, sealing a record does not eliminate it. A sealed record is still accessible for enforcement and judicial officers. In Pennsylvania, the authorities seal some records automatically after a certain time. Still, a person can also ask the court to seal them before. Charges and convictions that are eligible for this type of relief are:
- Second and third-degree misdemeanors and misdemeanors punishable by 2 years or less in prison
- Summary convictions
- Charges not resulting in convictions
Some crimes are not eligible for this relief, especially the violent ones or those that put people in danger. If a person has a felony conviction or multiple serious convictions, they cannot seal their record.
A fresh start
Sealing or expunging a record can be a great relief. Once you do this, you won’t have to talk about your past arrests or convictions anymore, not even if an employer asks about your criminal background. Guilty or not, you don’t deserve to have one act haunt you for the rest of your life, and you can get rid of that ghost by filing your petition with the court. Your future is waiting, and by expunging or sealing your record, you can leave the past in the past for good.