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Criminal Records in Pennsylvania



Four Frequently Asked Questions About Expungement of Criminal Records in PA


Employers routinely request background checks on job applicants in Pennsylvania. A criminal conviction revealed through a background check could prevent you from getting a much-needed job. If you are not sure what a background check might reveal, you can request a free criminal records check PA offers.

If the records search discloses charges for which you were arrested without being convicted, you might be able to have it expunged. Your request for expungement must be directed to a court and must meet certain requirements. Here are four commonly asked criminal record expungement questions and the answers to them.

Which criminal convictions cannot be expunged?

A free criminal records check PA officials make available will provide you with information about the outcome of your criminal case. As a rule, only the following outcomes or dispositions of criminal charges can lead to expungement of your record:

  • Not guilty
  • Dismissed
  • Withdrawn
  • Nolle Prossed
  • Disposition unreported

A guilty plea or a finding of guilt after a trial to a summary offense can also be expunged as long as you have not been arrested or prosecuted during the 5-year period following the conviction. Summary offenses are minor criminal offenses for which you usually receive a fine.

What must a person do to have a record expunged?

An expungement requires a court order directing the agencies in possession of your criminal records to destroy them. The request is made by filing a petition for expungement with the local court in which your case was originally heard.

Which charges cannot be expunged?

Misdemeanor and felony charges that resulted in a guilty plea or in a conviction after trial cannot be expunged. You might, however, be eligible for a pardon from the governor. Requesting a pardon begins with a letter to the Board of Pardons in which you request an application. The pardon process begins when you complete and return the application to the board.

Why are there full expungements and partial expungements?

If everything contained in your criminal record is eligible for expungement, then you would receive a full expungement provided the court grants your petition. Sometimes, however, there could be a combination of eligible charges and ineligible charges.

For example, if more than one criminal charge was filed against you and one of them was dismissed or withdrawn, the charge on which you were convicted would be ineligible for expungement, but the dismissed or withdrawn charge would be eligible. Under these circumstances, you would receive a partial expungement that would clear the dismissal or withdrawal from your record.

Before you begin any expungement proceeding, you must obtain an access and review copy of your criminal record from the state. Unfortunately, the access and review copy is not one of the free criminal records PA officials make available. The application package you obtain from the court provides detailed instructions about the process.

Individuals who cannot afford the fees associated with expungement proceedings may request a waiver from the court. The application for a waiver is an In Forma Pauperis Petition. The clerk of the court might be able to answer questions about the process.


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