If you have a criminal record in Pennsylvania, you may be wondering if it is possible to expunge it. Expungement is a process of clearing your criminal record, so that it is no longer accessible to the public or to most employers. This can be a very beneficial process for people with criminal records, as it can help them to get jobs, housing, and other opportunities that they may not have been eligible for before.
Who is eligible for expungement in Pennsylvania?
To be eligible for expungement in Pennsylvania, you must meet all of the following criteria:
- You must have been arrested or charged with a crime, but never convicted.
- You must have had your charges dismissed, withdrawn, or nolle prosequi'd (dismissed without prejudice).
- You must have completed all of the requirements of your probation or parole, if you were sentenced to either.
- You must have paid all fines and restitution that you were ordered to pay.
- You must have been free of arrest or prosecution for at least five years since the date your charges were dismissed, withdrawn, or nolle prosequi'd.
If you meet all of these criteria, you may be eligible for expungement. However, there are some exceptions to these rules. For example, you are not eligible for expungement if you were convicted of a felony, certain misdemeanors, or certain traffic violations. You are also not eligible for expungement if you have a pending criminal case.
How to expunge your criminal record in Pennsylvania
If you are eligible for expungement, you can file a petition with the court in the county where you were arrested or charged with the crime. The petition must be accompanied by a filing fee and certain other documents, such as a copy of your criminal record and a letter of recommendation from a character witness.
Once you have filed your petition, the court will schedule a hearing. At the hearing, you will have the opportunity to present your case to the judge. The judge will then decide whether or not to grant your petition.
If the judge grants your petition, your criminal record will be expunged. This means that it will be removed from public view and will no longer be accessible to most employers. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, law enforcement agencies and government agencies will still have access to your expunged record.
Benefits of expunging your criminal record
There are many benefits to expunging your criminal record. These benefits include:
- Improved job opportunities: Employers often perform background checks on potential employees. If your criminal record is expunged, it will not show up on these background checks, which could give you a better chance of getting hired.
- Improved housing opportunities: Landlords often perform background checks on potential tenants. If your criminal record is expunged, it will not show up on these background checks, which could give you a better chance of getting approved for housing.
- Improved educational opportunities: Some schools and universities perform background checks on potential students. If your criminal record is expunged, it will not show up on these background checks, which could give you a better chance of getting admitted to school.
- Improved travel opportunities: Some countries have laws that prohibit people with criminal records from entering. If your criminal record is expunged, it will not show up on these records, which could allow you to travel to countries that you would not have been able to travel to before.
How to find a criminal record expungement attorney in Pennsylvania
If you are considering expunging your criminal record, it is important to consult with a criminal record expungement attorney. An attorney can help you to determine if you are eligible for expungement, and can help you to file your petition and present your case in court.
To find a criminal record expungement attorney in Pennsylvania, you can search online or ask for referrals from friends, family, or other professionals. Once you have found a few potential attorneys, you should schedule a consultation with each of them. This will give you the opportunity to learn more about their experience and qualifications, and to ask them any questions that you have.
Expunging your criminal record can be a very beneficial process, but it is important to understand the eligibility requirements and the process involved. If you are considering expunging your criminal record, you should consult with a criminal record expungement attorney.