Can Your Criminal Record Be Sealed?

Clean Slate Legislation

Recently, Pennsylvania legislators passed a law that allows some criminal records to be sealed, rendering them invisible to some searchers — including prospective employers. While this law may be advantageous to you, you may not be benefitting from it. Find out why, and how to ensure your record is sealed. As always, if you need personal assistance with this or any other legal matter, call Casale & Bonner, P.C. at 570-326-7044.

Are Your Criminal Records Visible?

When you’re applying for a job, an apartment, or school, you will likely be subject to a background check. These checks yield results that include criminal records. Therefore, a criminal record can adversely affect your ability to get a job, become enrolled in classes, or even rent a place to live. Governor Tom Wolf has approved Clean Slate to allow people with records of convictions that are 10 years old — if they have had no more convictions — to have their records sealed.

Who Is Eligible?

While there is a provision in Clean Slate for automatic record sealing after a 10-year period, only certain offenses will be sealed. Misdemeanor records will be automatically sealed after 10 years if the defendant has had no new convictions. Second and third-degree misdemeanors are included in this automatic process. Some first-degree offenses are now eligible to be sealed, excluding violent and sexual offenses, among a few others. In cases where you have more than one first-degree felony or an additional felony, you will not be eligible for the automatic process, and you will have to wait longer than the stated 10-year period. The eligibility guidelines are difficult to understand. Please consult one of our lawyers for assistance in finding out whether or not your case can be sealed.

Your Convictions Are NOT Expunged

Keep in mind that your records have not been expunged. Your criminal record remains in the criminal justice system and is visible to law enforcement, employers who must consider these records per federal law, and any employer that uses FBI background checks. If your records have been sealed, feel free to respond to questions — except those from criminal justice agencies — as if the offense did not occur.

Is Clean Slate an Automatic Process?

Right now, your number-one consideration is to ensure that you have paid any and all court fines and costs. All fees must be paid before you are eligible for Clean Slate. Beginning in January 2021, Clean Slate will be an automated process for those who are eligible and have paid all of the fees associated with their case. Until then, you must petition for your records to be sealed. This is a process best accomplished with legal assistance. We are happy to help you determine your eligibility and file your petition.

Clean Your Slate

Remember, Clean Slate does NOT expunge your record. You may continue to seek expungement even if your record is sealed. Review the Clean Slate legislation for details, and give one of our legal experts a call at 570-326-7044 for assistance.