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Overview of the criminal expungement process in Pennsylvania

On Behalf of | Aug 19, 2021 | Criminal Defense

When someone is convicted of a criminal offense, that person has to face a lot of challenges in his or her everyday life. The sad part is that In many of such cases, the offenses are minor and the person convicted has realized the mistake and now wants to move ahead and start afresh. However, due to the records of a criminal history, starting afresh becomes a serious challenge. Fortunately for those people, it may be possible to expunge the criminal record.

What is criminal expungement?

Expungement, which is also known as expunction, is a process that is overseen by the court in which the records of arrest or criminal conviction is erased from the individuals records. In other words, the conviction is “sealed” and the records become invisible in the eyes of the law. It is also known as “setting aside” a criminal conviction.

It is important to keep in mind, though, that whether someone’s criminal record can be expunged depends on various factors. As a general rule, a person whose criminal record was expunged need not mention an arrest or conviction at various places such as when applying for jobs, seeking a loan, or renting a home.

Expungement in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, the first step in the expungement process requires an applicant to fill up the SP 4-170 form and mail it to the Central Repository along with a check or money order for $20 payable to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, copy of a government-issued photo identity card, and a legal affidavit or letter of representation, as may be applicable.

In the next step, the Central Repository sends the complete arrest record via email. Upon receipt of the records, the person requesting the expungement should follow up with the Clerk of Courts in the county where the arrest occurred and gather further information about how to file a petition for expungement of an arrest record.

If the petition is successful, the Pennsylvania State Police receives an order from the Clerk of Court, which is signed by a judge of the Commonwealth Court. The police then expunges the record of the arrest.