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Expungement of Juvenile Records

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The PA Superior Court recently reviewed the provisions of the Criminal History Record Information Act and found that Section 9124(a)(4) does not violate the PA Constitution

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By Attorney Elisabeth K.H. Pasqualini, Juvenile Defense Attorney, Harrisburg, PA

In Appeal of R.R., No. 1999 WDA 2011 (10/29/2012), the PA Superior Court reviewed the statutory language of the Criminal History Records Information Act, regarding juvenile record expungements, 18 Pa.C.S. Section 9123(a)(4), and found that the prosecution's right to unilaterally oppose the expungement of a juvenile record was not violative of the PA Constitution as the juvenile has the right  to have their record expunged after five (5) years as long as all conditions are met.  Here, the juvenile was seeking expungement under Section 9123(a)(4), prior to the expiration of the five (5) year period.  The district attorney opposed without reason.

The Act Provides as Follows

(a) Expungement of juvenile records.--Notwithstanding the provisions of section 9105 (relating to other criminal justice information) and except upon cause shown, expungement of records of juvenile delinquency cases wherever kept or retained shall occur after 30 days' notice to the district attorney, whenever the court upon its motion or upon the motion of a child or the parents or guardian finds:

  1. A complaint is filed which is not substantiated or the petition which is filed as a result of a complaint is dismissed by the court;
  2. Six months have elapsed since the final discharge of the person from supervision under a consent decree and no proceeding seeking adjudication or conviction is pending;
  3. Five years have elapsed since the final discharge of the person from commitment, placement, probation or any other disposition and referral and since such final discharge, the person has not been convicted of a felony, misdemeanor or adjudicated delinquent and no proceeding is pending seeking such conviction or adjudication; or
  4. The individual is 18 years of age or older, the attorney for the Commonwealth consents to the expungement and a court orders the expungement after giving consideration to the following factors:  
  • (i) the type of offense;
  • (ii) the individual's age, history of employment, criminal activity and drug or alcohol problems;
  • (iii) adverse consequences that the individual may suffer if the records are not expunged; and
  • (iv) whether retention of the record is required for purposes of protection of the public safety.

The Court determined that a juvenile does not  have the right to an expungement prior to five (5) years without the DA's approval.  Further, pursuant PA Juvenile Rule 170(E), the court may schedule a hearing where the DA does not consent to the expungement.  However, pursuant to Section 9124(a)(3), the juvenile can receive an expungement after 5 years where the other conditions in that section have been met.

Questions or comments, call Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC.

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