Support Pennsylvania Expungement

Supporting SB391 to reform PA Expungement Law

Author: Christopher Bernard (page 1 of 6)

Understanding Pennsylvania’s New Misdemeanor Record Sealing Law

Pennsylvanians seeking relief from the substantial burdens of a criminal record may soon be eligible to petition the court for an order of “limited access”. An order of limited access (i.e. record sealing) provides those with certain misdemeanor convictions the ability to obtain employment and housing without facing the discrimination that can accompany a criminal record.

How Will My Options Change Under the New Law?

The new record sealing statute will extend the opportunity to move past the stigma of having a criminal record to those who have been law-abiding citizens for at least 10 years. The eligible offenses will be nonviolent misdemeanors–second and third degree misdemeanors (notated as M2 and M3) and ungraded offenses. These options were formerly available only to a very small population of ex-offenders (individuals convicted of summary offenses, those 70 years or older and those who have been deceased for 3 years).

When Does the Law Go Into Effect?

The new law will take effect November 14, 2016, making it possible to effectively seal your record from being viewed by an employer or landlord in the event they obtain a background check. Petitions for orders of limited access, or record sealing, under Pennsylvania law 18 Pa. C.S. § 9122.1 may then be submitted to the courts for their consideration.

Am I Eligible For Record Sealing?

Eligibility requirements are as follows:

  • No convictions for 10 years (beginning from your conviction date or date of completion of supervision, including probation—whichever is later)
  • Only M2 or M3 (second or third degree) misdemeanors or ungraded offenses that carry no more than 2 years as a maximum sentence
  • No more than 3 eligible misdemeanor convictions
  • No felony or first degree misdemeanor convictions
  • No convictions of any of the following offenses: sexual intercourse with an animal (3129), impersonating a public servant (4912), intimidation of or retaliation against a witness (4952, 4953), obstruction of a child abuse case (4958), any sex offense conviction that requires registration under Meghan’s Law (42 Pa.C.S. Ch. 97), or simple assault (M2 assault or second degree misdemeanor assault)

What is the Process?

In November 2016, the courts will likely receive a large increase in the number of individuals filing these petitions. Therefore, delays in processing by the court and District Attorney’s office are to be expected. If eligible, we recommend having your petition prepared and ready to file as soon as possible.

The petition must be filed in the Court of Common Pleas of the county in which the conviction occurred. Case documents are often required to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in the petition. A copy of your Pennsylvania Police criminal history report must also be included when filing. There is a filing fee of at least $132, but it may be more depending on the county or court. Sometimes there are fee waivers for those with limited resources.

The District Attorney’s office is then given 30 days to object to or approve the petition. If approved, the order will be granted and your record sealed. If the District Attorney’s Office objects, the court will set a hearing date before a judge at which the case will be argued. The District Attorney will present their objections and you or your attorney will have the chance to respond. It is often possible for your attorney to attend the hearing in your place, which can be helpful if you do not live near where you were convicted.

If your case is granted, law enforcement agencies will only be able to share information from your record amongst themselves, with courts (in the event of another arrest, it can be used for sentencing and bail determination) and with some governmental agencies (for licensing purposes, described in section 9121(b.1) and 9124(a). They will be prohibited from sharing any of the information with the public, including through a background or credit check.

It is important to note that approval of these petitions is not guaranteed. The court is not legally required to approve and may consider them on a case-by-case basis. Seeking help from legal professionals will likely increase your chances of obtaining a sealed record.

Pennsylvania Senate Voted 49-0 to pass Senate Bill 391

Great news! The PA Senate voted today to pass Senate Bill 391 with a 49-0 vote. SB 391 allows some offenders with misdemeanor convictions to expunge their conviction after satisfying a waiting period.

“The bill still has hurdles to clear before enactment,” said attorney Mathew Higbee, “but we are very encouraged by the unanimous support the bill received in the Senate.”

SB 391 was unanimously approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee on June 17, 2013 and had since been awaiting a vote by the full Senate. The bill now heads to the State House of Representatives. If this legislation is enacted, Pennsylvania will join 19 other states that have expanded their expungement laws in the past five years.

EVERYONE – ACT NOW to Support SB 391!!

Everyone that accesses this website needs is interested and supports the passage of SB 391. Get involved NOW!! Call Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi’s office, send emails to voice your support to bring SB 391 to the Senate floor for a vote BEFORE these law-makers recess for a long summer break. Tell your friends and family members to call and email – GET SENATOR PILEGGI’S ATTENTION to move this bill!!!

bill 391

I think this will give a lot of good people more opportunities for work and also help cut unemployment down significantly please pass this bill asap.

I support Bill 391

People are capable of maturing after 5-10+ years of life. Some offenses such as “possession of a controlled substance” should not haunt you for the rest of your life. A person is considered an adult at 18, but they are not as mature as they are in their 20s and 30s, and shouldn’t have their entire future damaged by a misdemeanor on their criminal record. I support Bill 391, Please support Bill 391.

second chance for felonies

i think its a fair deal and a noble thing to do, i my self am a person that just got released from county jail after giving up and taking a plea deal, on an arson charge, its been a challenge to find a job but im trying to keep my faith and head up, but then again is only for misdemeanors, this law, wat about us felony charged exconvicts. ive been trying my best and constantly i keep getting no were, im trying to do my best but sometimes suicide is an option, due to my none luck on getting or keeping a job. two or 3 weeks in a job they lay me off due to my felonies.

Senate Bill 391

I believe this bill is a step in the right direction there are many people who make a one time mistake and deserve to have their record expunged.

This Bill holds merit and is a great idea

Many other states have Bills similar to this one. PA is behind the curve on this issue. Most pa residents in this situation want this changed so they can get a job or get into college etc… One point I must make is, expunging a record after 7 years does not provide a benefit to someone who is looking for a job or needing get in school. Most companies and universities run background checks for arrests in the past 7 years.

Second Chance

What about expunging records for those people tricked into pleading guilty who only has misdemeanor 1 how about giving us a second chance???

SB391/Second Chance for Low Level felony convictions.

This Bill should include low level non violent felonies. The fedral goverment has a very good bill called the second chance it covers non violent low level felonies. Many person/s will be able to vote if low level felonies were expunged this gives person/s freedom and their liberty back. So lets amend the bill to include low level non violent felonies,even with a college degree its hard to get a job because of my conviction in 1991.
Thank You

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