Expungement and Governor’s Pardons are the only way in which an individual with a prior record can obtain a ‘clean slate.’ Though time-intensive and left to the discretion of the Court or Governor to grant, these documents when signed grant a new opportunity to move forward without the shackles of a criminal record.
Although not available as a remedy in all situations, where applicable an expungement can be an easy way to purge a criminal record from one’s past. Pennsylvania Law at Title 18 Pa.C.S. § 9122, mandates the limited circumstances in which individuals may obtain permission to remove criminal records from the files of the Court of Common Pleas, as well as other criminal justice agencies.
There are many reasons why a person may want to expunge criminal records. Most often, background checks such as an Act 33/34 clearance will produce details of criminal cases that might affect future employment opportunities. Others may need an expungement to grant them the ability to be bonded or to obtain a gun permit. Regardless of the reason, all criminal cases remain a matter of public record until a motion for expungement has been filed with the Court of Common Pleas, is given the approval of the District Attorney, and is finally granted by an order of court from the Court of Common Pleas.
Prior to Act 134 of 2008, only non-convictions could be expunged, regardless of severity of the offense or the punishment. Non-convictions include verdict of not guilty; dismissal; withdrawal of charges, or nolle prosequi; and completion of the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition. The passage of Act 134 now allows for the expungement of a conviction for a Summary offense provided the defendant has been free of arrest or prosecution for five (5) years following the conviction for that offense.
After the judge grants an expungement, the Clerk of Court then eliminates all non-conviction data from its physical case files and electronic database and notifies the appropriate criminal justice agencies, such as Adult Probation and Parole, the District Attorney, the appropriate Magisterial District Court, the Pennsylvania State Police, County Jail, Arresting Agency, and Sheriff. It may take up to one (1) year for the expungement process to be completed after a judge signs an Order of Expungement.
Should you be interested in an expungement of your criminal record, please contact Miller Lyden P.C. so that we may begin in earnest to erase your past mistakes and give you an opportunity to once again pursue your goals on equal footing to that of your peers.
If you are ineligible for an expungement of your record because you prior offenses consist of misdemeanors or Felony convictions, a Governor’s Pardon may be the only remaining option available to you. A pardon is an act by the Governor of Pennsylvania that erases a conviction from your criminal record. In Pennsylvania, a pardon is generally the only way that convictions can be eliminated; convictions cannot be expunged by a court.
Although it is difficult to get a pardon, you should consider applying for one if you are having employment or other problems because of your criminal record. Unfortunately, the pardon process will take several years – currently four years from the time of filing. Although It involves placing a great deal of personal information and legwork to complete the serialized application, a successful applicant can have a clean criminal record and an official document signed by the Governor to show for it.
Anyone who has a criminal record may apply for a pardon. And, while there are no definite standards for when a pardon will be given, the majority of people who receive pardons have a record of only one minor offense that was committed at least five years ago.
The most common crimes to receive pardons include minor theft offenses like shoplifting or minor drug charges. Typically, serious crimes are only pardoned if several decades have passed since the crime was committed. The longer that you have stayed out of trouble, the better your chances of getting a pardon. You should avoid the temptation to apply for a pardon too soon. If you are denied, you will be required to wait a year before you can apply again.
Should you decide to pursue a Governor’s Pardon, Miller Lyden Associates can help. Contact us immediately and we can get started on the process of purging your prior record today.