Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC

I've Been Acquitted of Criminal Charges- Now What?

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There's a quote that fits..."so where can I go to get my good name back?"

By Attorney Jeffrey B. Engle, Managing partner

I recently represented an individual that was wrongfully accused of a crime (see 'Breaking News' clip from Fox 'N' Friends- 'Mom Could Get Jail for Boarding Bus'). It was evident that the District Attorney failed to properly investigate the facts before authorizing the police to initiate criminal prosecution.  He was irresponsible.  The power of the state that the District Attorney holds to have individuals charged with crimes is an awesome power.  However, with great power comes an even greater responsibility.  So, what can someone do if they have been wrongfully accused and the charges end up being dropped?

In Pennsylvania, an individual has the right to have their arrest record expunged if they are acquitted (found 'not guilty') of the charge(s) or it has been nolle prossed (dismissed upon application by the DA).  The District Attorney has no alternative but to permit this to happen.  The police have no right to prohibit this from happening either.  A petition has to be filed with the court requesting that the arrest record be expunged.  Once granted, this means that the fingerprint cards, photo or 'mug shot' and any biographical data maintained of record with the police department, State Police (Bureau of Criminal Information) or national records (National Criminal Information Center) have to be destroyed.

There are also several other instances where an expungement should be requested.  If you have questions about your case and expungement, call the experienced team at Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC toll free or email us.

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