Pennsylvania is one step closer to being the next state to have updated expungement laws, thanks to the unanimous vote from the Pennsylvania Senate that passed Senate Bill 391 earlier today. SB 391 would amend Pennsylvania’s existing expungement law so that qualified offenders with low-level misdemeanor convictions can expunge their conviction after proving that they are rehabilitated and by satisfying the necessary statutory waiting period.
Pennsylvania State Senator, Tim Solobay, sponsored SB 391 stating “this bill recognizes genuine efforts at rehabilitation; it makes sense for our justice system and it makes sense for taxpayers.” By allowing rehabilitated offenders the opportunity to expunge their misdemeanors from their criminal record, crime rates will reduce and unemployment will lower significantly.
The current law does not allow offenders under 70 years old to expunge their Pennsylvania misdemeanor, regardless of how much time has passed since their misdemeanor conviction. In addition, the offender must wait until he or she is over 70 year of age and cannot have been convicted of an offense in over 5 years. Otherwise, the offender must wait until he or she has been dead for over three years.
Law Would Enable Misdemeanors to be Expunged
SB 391 will allow offenders who have second or third degree misdemeanors to apply for an expungement if he or she has not committed another offense within the given timeframe. Second-degree offenders must wait seven years to petition for an expungement, and third-degree offenders must wait ten years before petitioning.
According to RecordGone.com expungement attorney Jenna Thorne, “this bill provides needed relief for many deserving people. It will also benefit the citizens of Pennsylvania, because the new law will help to reduce recidivism rates by allowing more former offenders to secure gainful employment and support themselves.”
If the State House of Representatives passes SB 391, Pennsylvania will be one of 19 other states that have expanded their expungement laws in the past five years.
Hopefully, Pennsylvania Senate’s unanimous vote, and the support of the Pennsylvania District Attorney’s Association will encourage the House of Representatives that passing SB 391 is imperative. For more information, read our previous article covering Senate Bill 391.