Record expungement is when all records of your arrest, charge, or conviction are destroyed. In Pennsylvania, you can get your adult criminal record expunged by filing a Petition for Expungement with the Court of Common Pleas in the county in which the offenses occurred. However, the procedure to expunge your record is tricky, which is why FindLaw has created this summary to help illuminate the process.
Obtain Your Criminal History
The Petition for Expungement is required to contain information such as the subject's name, date of birth, social security number, the offenses with which the subject was charged, the case's docket number, the offense tracking number and the disposition of the case. If this information is not provided, the petition will be dismissed regardless of its merits. Therefore, it is essential to obtain a copy of your rap sheet before you file the Petition. You can submit a request online or submit a criminal history request form.
The Petition for Expungement
There are two different forms you may use to file your petition. If you are trying to expunge summary offenses (not requiring a jury), also known as violations or infractions, use this form pursuant to Criminal Procedure Code section 490. If you were convicted of a misdemeanor or felony, instead use this form pursuant to Criminal Procedure Code 790.
Once you file the petition, a hearing will then be scheduled before a judge who will determine whether to grant the expungement request or not. In making this determination, the judge will take into consideration factors such as:
- damage to the individual's reputation;
- his or her livelihood and future earnings capacity;
- the nature and gravity of the offense;
- the individual's prior criminal history; and
- whether the record should be preserved to protect the public.
If the judge agrees to expunge your record, they will create an expungement order.
Sexual Crimes Against Minors Will Never Be Expunged
Pennsylvania law specifically prohibits the courts from expunging records when someone has been charged with certain sexual assault or related offenses against victims under the age of 18, even if you have successfully complied with the terms of ARD.
Juvenile Record Expungement
Pennsylvania also allows juvenile records to be expunged under specific circumstances, including summary offenses. However, you must fall into one of these five categories:
- Six months have passed since you have successfully completed an informal adjustment and no adjudication proceeding is pending;
- Six months have elapsed since your final discharge from supervision under a diversion program or consent decree, and no conviction or adjudication is pending;
- You are 18 years old or older, and: six months have passed since you satisfied all terms and conditions of a summary conviction committed while under the age of 18; you have not been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor, or adjudicated delinquent; and you have no pending charge of delinquency, misdemeanor, or felony.
- Five years have passed since your final discharge from disposition and referral, and you have not since been adjudicated, delinquent, or convicted of a felony or misdemeanor; and there are no pending charges of delinquency, misdemeanor, or felony against you.
- The District Attorney agrees to the expunction after considering the offense type; your age, employment history, criminal activity, and alcohol or drug problems; adverse consequences in the event the expungement is not granted; and whether public safety is at risk if the record is not retained.
Expunge DNA Records
You can erase your DNA records under very limited circumstances. In fact, it can only happen if you were arrested by mistake or if the case against you was dismissed or reversed.
Need Help Expunging Your Criminal Record? Talk to an Attorney Today
If you have questions about the hurdles involved in expungement proceedings, you may want to talk with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Defense attorneys typically work on a flat fee basis, which means they won't rack up billable hours on your case. Get started today by reaching out to a Philadelphia criminal defense attorney today.