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Off-the-record: a look at expungements and limited access

Many clients want to know their recourse for expunging their criminal record. After all, a criminal history has the power to affect a person’s life long after the terms and conditions of their sentence have been successfully completed. Unfortunately, not all people will be eligible to wipe the slate clean.

What is expungement? Who is eligible?

Expungement removes a criminal record from the public eye

When a case is filed with a court, such as a criminal and summary case, the case becomes available for online public viewing – even if it doesn’t result in a conviction. When a person’s record is expunged, such cases will no longer be available to members of the public.

The court may also choose to allow law enforcement limited access to a criminal record.  When the public is unable to view a person’s criminal record, new doors can open for a defendant. Such opportunities may include obtaining public assistance and lawful employment.

Not everyone will be eligible

Without consulting with an attorney, it’s hard to say if your record is eligible for expungement. Below are a few factors that can determine if a record can be expunged in Pennsylvania. Please note that this is only a brief overview and other conditions may apply to determine one’s eligibility for expungement.

  • The defendant has not been arrested or prosecuted in the last five years
  • The case did not result in a conviction
  • The defendant has successfully completed the terms and conditions of an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program

Just because something ends up on your record does not always mean that it will remain there forever. If you are eligible for expungement, seizing the opportunity could help you to get back on your feet and move on from your criminal past.

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