Pennsylvania Clean Slate Law
The second phase of Pennsylvania’s Clean Slate Law goes into effect today. This phase automatically seals certain criminal records, involving charges that were dropped where individuals were found not guilty, as well as summary and minor misdemeanor convictions that are ten years old. Not all records are eligible, and the rules are complicated. This automated process will begin on June 28, 2019 and the courts have a full year – until June 27, 2020 – to finish sealing all of these cases.
While law enforcement will still be able to pull up arrests and convictions, the public, including landlords and most employers, will not.
“If people with sealed records are asked about prior convictions, it will be as if the crime never happened” Attorney Melissa A. Derby of Welch, Gold, Siegel & Fiffik, P.C. said.
“If this person is applying for a job and are asked if they’ve ever been charged or convicted of a sealed crime, their answer is ‘no’,” Derby also said.
Most misdemeanor and summary convictions are eligible for sealing. Some of these convictions will be sealed automatically under Clean Slate. Some need to be sealed by petition. The rules are complicated but there are three things you can do to check to see if you may qualify:
1. Check the state court docket system for your conviction date. You must be 10 years conviction free.
2. Check the grade of your conviction. Most non-violent M2, M3 and S graded convictions are eligible for sealing, but there are many exceptions. If you have an M1 conviction, speak with a lawyer to see if you are eligible for sealing. Felony convictions are generally not eligible for sealing. If there is no grade next to your charge, this missing information can prevent your record from being sealed. Contact a lawyer for assistance in getting the record corrected so that sealing can take place for your convictions.
3. Check if you owe money. Your case will not be sealed until the record shows that the amount you owe in fines, costs and court fees is $0.
If your case is ineligible for automatic sealing, we still may be able to help you. Some convictions can be sealed even earlier than the automatic process, but they may require a court proceeding.
If you have any questions about how the Clean Slate law applies to your prior arrest record or convictions, please contact us.