With the passing of the “Clean Slate” Act, Pennsylvania has implemented the first law in the nation that allows for the automatic sealing of certain criminal records. The legislation also implements new procedures for sealing more serious misdemeanor convictions and non-conviction data.
Under the new law, certain minor crimes which are punishable by two years or less, will be automatically sealed once ten years have passed since the offender’s last conviction and all financial obligations to the courts are met. These are generally ungraded crimes or misdemeanors of the second or third degree.
The law also allows for the sealing of certain first degree misdemeanors upon petitioning and receiving approval from the court. This is a big change in the law and will greatly expand the class of persons eligible to have their records sealed. Previously, first degree misdemeanors were only able to be sealed in very limited circumstances. The bill limits public access to all summary convictions — the least serious violations — that are 10 years old, as long as the defendant has fulfilled all court-ordered obligations.
Lastly, the law provides that non-conviction data shall be sealed when three years have elapsed from the date of arrest; no conviction has occurred; The law does not expunge convictions, and after they are sealed the convictions will still be available to police, courts and prosecutors. The disposition is indicated in the record; and there is nothing in the record to indicate that proceedings seeking conviction remain pending. This also provides a substantial change in the law, as even charges that were dismissed by the prosecution prior to trial could be difficult to remove from one’s criminal record.
This law is brand new and most of its provisions will not take effect for many months. As with any law, there are exceptions and nuances that require the expert advice of an attorney well versed in arguing these types of cases.
Our legal team has decades of experience in complex criminal defense cases. To stay up to date with this law and for all of your legal needs Count on Mooney. For a consultation at any one of our 16 offices throughout Central Pennsylvania, call 833-MOONEYLAW for an appointment to discuss your case with one of our experienced Capital Region criminal defense attorneys.