On June 28, 2019, the second phase of Pennsylvania’s Clean Slate Law went into effect. Under this law, criminal history information about eligible summary and misdemeanor offenses will automatically be sealed, i.e., removed from public view if an individual has been free from arrest or prosecution for ten (10) years after conviction or release from prison or supervision, whichever is later.
Offenses that are eligible for automatic sealing include:
(1) misdemeanors of the third degree,
(2) misdemeanors of the second degree
(3) ungraded misdemeanors which carry a penalty of no more than two years
Offenses that are not eligible for limited access include:
(1) offenses involving danger to a person,
(2) offenses against the family,
(3) offenses involving firearms and other dangerous articles,
(4) sexual offenses and sex offender registration,
(5) cruelty to animals
(6) corruption of minors
Although the Clean Slate Act does limit public access to some criminal history information, it is important to know what it does not do:
· Does not destroy the records – the records are only sealed from public view;
· Does not remove a conviction – only a pardon by the Governor can do that;
· Does not remove any press release or news report about a criminal charge being filed or an arrest being made;
· Does not prevent an individual from maintaining a criminal record that was retrieved, e.g., downloaded before the record was sealed;
· Does not restore gun ownership or possession rights if they were forfeited by a conviction, e.g., misdemeanor crime of domestic violence;
· Does not remove a record of the offense from a PennDOT driving record if the offense eligible for sealing resulted in a suspension or other department action.
There are many exceptions to the Clean Slate Law’s automatic sealing of criminal records. Even if you are ineligible for automatic sealing, you may, under certain circumstances, petition the court for limited access and the court may in its discretion grant an order of limited access, i.e., sealing of the record. You should consult with Attorneys Heather A. Adams, Daniel C. Bardo or Christopher M. Patterson.
~Christopher M. Patterson, Esquire