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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Pa SB391 aims to expand Pennsylvania Expungement Law to include Misdemeanor Offenses

Introduced by State Senator Tim Solobay, Senate Bill 391 seeks to expand the current expungement laws of Pennsylvania. Currently, a person may seek to have summary charges expunged from their criminal record if they remain arrest free for five years following the guilty plea or guilty verdict for summary offenses. However, the current law only addresses minor "paper cut offenses" such as harassment, public urination, disorderly conduct, public intoxication, underage drinking, false id, reckless driving or other summary offenses.
Most of the aforementioned offenses will be adjudicated as a non-traffic summary offenses and may not show on some quick background checks. However, most, if not all, will probably show for more standard, stringent background checks ran by most federal and state agencies. But, as the law is currently written, only these summary offenses are eligible for the expugement process.
So, unless you are eligible for the ARD program following a DUI conviction or probation without verdict sentence following a conviction for simple possession of narcotics, one can only seek to wipe their record clean if they meet the criteria of the law as it currently stands: summary offense, 5 year waiting period.
What SB391 seeks to address are similar low level offenses that just so happen to be graded a little higher in the Pennsylvania Criminal System: Crimes charged as a misdemeanor of the second degree or misdemeanor of the third degree.  For example, disorderly conduct can be charged as a misdemeanor of the third degree or a summary offense. If SB391 is successfully signed into law, a person found guilty of disorderly conduct can eventually have the conviction expunged after a waiting period, whether the crime was graded as a summary offense or a misdemeanor of the third degree. Other low graded misdemeanors possibly eligible for expungement include, but is not limited to, theft, simple assault, defiant trespass or unsworn falsifications.
Click here to Read the Press Release regarding the new expungement law and click here to read the full text and status of the bill, including the inclusions of new eligible offenses with the noted exceptions for crimes excluded from eligibility. Currently, the bill has been passed by the Pa Senate and has been forwarded to the Pa House.

Pittsburgh Criminal Defense & Injury Attorney Frank Walker
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