A bill that expands the law to provide for expungement of certain misdemeanor convictions in Pennsylvania was recently re-introduced in the State Senate.
On January 15, 2015, State Senator Stewart Greenleaf introduced Senate Bill 166, which would greatly expand the expungement law in Pennsylvania and provide former offenders a deserved second chance.
Pennsylvania Senate Bill 166 on Misdemeanor Expungement
The recently introduced SB 166 provides for the same changes to Pennsylvania’s expungement law as Senate Bill 391. In October of 2013, the PA State Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 391. Following passage in the senate, SB 391 was sent to the PA House for consideration but was never brought up for a vote. Under the proposed changes, the new law would allow certain offenders with misdemeanor convictions to expunge their conviction after a waiting period has been satisfied.
“A low-level misdemeanor in a person’s past can often serve as a continual barrier when seeking work, long after they have completed their sentence,” State Senator Greenleaf stated in his memorandum announcing the introduction of this bill. Greenleaf also said “this legislation would benefit not just former offenders, but Pennsylvania as a whole, by countering high rates of recidivism, relieving an overburdened pardon system, and providing an opportunity for ex-offenders to join our workforce.”
Comparing SB 166 to the Current Law
Pennsylvania’s current law does not allow individuals with misdemeanor or felony convictions to expunge their record, no matter what amount of time has passed, until he or she is over seventy years of age and has not been convicted of any offense for five years or until the person has been dead for three years. SB 166 would allow individuals who have nonviolent second or third degree misdemeanors to petition to have their criminal records expunged if they have not reoffended in seven years for second degree misdemeanors or ten years for third degree misdemeanors.
If Senate Bill 166 is passed and enacted, Pennsylvania would join a growing number of states that have added or improved their expungement laws in recent years to reduce the number of years that a criminal record can prejudice an individual. This national trend evidences the importance of allowing former offenders, especially those with low-level offenses, the chance to move forward without the stigma that comes with a conviction.
On February 3, after receiving a unanimous vote in the Judiciary Committee on January 22, Senate Bill 166 was referred to the senate Appropriations committee for consideration. We will continue to post updates as this extremely beneficial bill is considered by Pennsylvania’s legislature.
Tuesday, January 28 2014
After being approved in a unanimous vote by the Pennsylvania State Senate in October, Senate Bill 391, the expungement bill sponsored by Senator Timothy Solobay (D – 46) is waiting for action in the House Committee on the Judiciary. Supporters of the bill say that Committee Chairman Ronald Marisco (R -105) may allow for a vote on the bill in February.
Chairman Marisco has strong law-enforcement connections and a solid anti-crime voting record, so he may be having an knee-jerk reaction to this bill. Hopefully, he will see that the bill is supported by the state’s district attorneys and that other red states have passed laws that expanded expungement.
What The Senate Bill 391 Will Accomplish
SB 391 will expand the Pennsylvania courts ability to expunge criminal records to include low level misdemeanors after waiting periods have been met. Under current law, no misdemeanor convictions are eligible to be expunged.
Please contact representative Marisco and ask him to allow a vote on SB 391.
He can be reached via email at [email protected] or you can call his office at 717-783-2014.
Monday, June 24 – Harrisburg, PA. The bill proposing to greatly expand Pennsylvania’s expungement law, Senate Bill 391, was moved up on the Senate calendar today. Representatives from Senator Tim Solobay’s office said they are optimistic about the full Senate vote happening this week. Senate Bill 391 was unanimously approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee on June 17, 2013, and has since been awaiting a vote by the full Senate.
Senate Bill 391, which is sponsored by Senator Solobay, modernizes Pennyslvania’s expungement law by allowing some offenders with low-level misdemeanors to expunge their record after they have proven that they are rehabilitated and satisfied a substantial waiting period. If Pennsylvania enacts this legislation, they will join seventeen other states that have expanded their expungement laws in the past five years.
Please contact your state Senator and let them know you support SB 391.
The Senate Appropriations Committee is schedule a vote on SB 391 for Monday, June 17, 2013. The committee is composed of 15 Republicans and 9 Democrats. Senator Jake Corman is the chair. A complete list of committee members can be found here: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/CteeInfo/index.cfm?Code=3&CteeBody=S. The committee must pass the bill in order for the full Senate to have an opportunity to vote on the bill.
SB 391 modernizes Pennyslvania’s expungement law by letting low-level offenders to expunge their record after they have proven that they are rehabilitated and met substantial waiting periods. Seventeen states have expanded their expungement laws in the past five years. Expungement expansion has been supported by Republican and Democrat state legislatures.
Please contact your representative and let them know you support SB 391.