On February 16, 2016, Governor Tom Wolf signed into law Senate Bill 166, which allows the sealing of criminal records in Pennsylvania starting on November 14, 2016. The new law will provide those convicted of misdemeanor convictions a chance to capitalize on opportunities without the consequences of a criminal history readily available to the public.
New Law Provides Record Sealing for Misdemeanor Convictions
Under the new statute, 18 Pa.C.S. 9122.1, an individual convicted of second and third degree misdemeanors and ungraded offenses with a maximum penalty of two years may obtain an Order of Limited Access from the court, otherwise known as a “sealing.” If granted, State or local police departments, courts, and other state agencies are prohibited from providing information related to the conviction, arrest, or other information to anyone with few exceptions.
Limitations of Current Pennsylvania Expungement Law
Prior to the enactment of 18 Pa.C.S. 9122.1, record clearing relief for misdemeanor convictions was limited to those who received a gubernatorial pardon for the offense, those over the age of 70 years of age, and those dead for three years. Those who receive conviction record sealing under the new law will be authorized to refuse to disclose information about their sealed case to everyone but criminal justice agencies. Most importantly, this includes applications for employment, housing, and education.
To be eligible, an applicant must be free from arrest or conviction for a period of 10 years following their last sentence, have no felony or first-degree misdemeanor convictions, and no more than three misdemeanor convictions total. Furthermore, anyone ever convicted of any of the following are also prohibited from sealing any of their cases:
• Assault in the first or second degree
• Sexual intercourse with an animal
• Impersonation of a public servant
• Intimidation of witnesses or victims
• Retaliation against witnesses or victims
• Intimidation, retaliation or obstruction of justice in child abuse cases
• Any offense that requires sex offender registration
How do I sign up?
This exciting new law goes into effect on November 14, 2016. Because the new sealing will benefit so many Pennsylvania misdemeanants, there is likely to be an excessive amount of applications. In the beginning, the amount of applications is likely to cause a backlog with your local District Attorney’s Office and court. Therefore, we are accepting clients for this PA Record Sealing now so that petitions can be submitted as soon as the law goes into effect.
You can read more about sealing in Pennsylvania at http://www.recordgone.com/expungement-pennsylvania/sealing/
To see if you are eligible, please click here.