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Did something stupid a long time ago that continues to haunt you to this day? Whether it is problematic or just highly embarrassing, submitting to a criminal background check when applying to school or for a new job can be daunting. However, Pennsylvania’s new Clean Slate Act can help by allowing individuals to seal their past mistakes and minor indiscretions should they happen in the future. The near-unanimous legislation allows many minor offenders who have been free from conviction for 10 years to petition for a court order that prohibits disclosure of a criminal record in most cases. It is important to note that the records are sealed, not expunged.
Under the Clean Slate Act (and with a few exceptions), persons who were convicted of a misdemeanor or an ungraded offense carrying a maximum penalty of less than five years in prison are eligible to have their records sealed. The author of this bill, State Representative Sheryl Delozier, encourages anyone with a nonviolent criminal record to see if they are eligible for this opportunity. The best way to begin to close that chapter in your life is to contact an attorney to advise you if you are eligible for your records to be sealed and file the Petition on your behalf.
In addition to remedying past wrongs, the Clean Slate Act requires counties to enact an automated computer process that seals arrests that did not result in convictions, summary convictions, and eligible misdemeanor convictions if there are no convictions within 10 years of the adjudication. This automatic sealing requirement will go into effect on June 28, 2019. Therefore, if you or a family member takes that one misstep in the future, but then stays on the straight and narrow for 10 years, your record will be sealed with no further action needed on your part.
As a member of Gross McGinley’s Criminal Defense Group, Attorney Michael J. Blum helps clients fully understand their criminal charges, the investigative and prosecution process, and options for sealing or expunging their record.