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Expungements, Pardons and the new Clean Slate Law


*Expungement- The removal of information so that there is no trace or indication that such information existed. The elimination of all identifiers which may be used to trace the identity of an individual, allowing remaining data to be used for statistical purposes. 18 Pa.C.S. § 9102 ("Criminal History Records Information Act" or "CHRIA").

An expungement may be given to an individual that either 1) successfully completes an ARD program; 2) the individual has been dead for three years or 3) attains the age of 70 and has been free of arrest or prosecution for ten years following final release from confinement or supervision. 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 9122 (b).

Summary offenses may be expunged after 5 years if the individual has been from arrest or prosecution following their conviction. The 5 year period starts from the date that all fees, fines and costs are paid in full. An underage drinking summary offense may be expunged from one's record if a person turns 21 years of age or older if the offense occurred on or after the age of 18. 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 9122(a)

NOTE: The Court may not expunge a record for the following offenses: 3121- Rape; 3121.1 (stat. sex); 3123 (invol. Deviate sexual intercourse); 31241.1 (sexual assault); 3125 (agg. indec. assault); 3127 (indec. exposure); 3126 (ind. assault); 5902 (prostitution and related offenses); 5903 (obscene and other sexual materials and peformances). Further, District Attorneys may maintain their own databases for recidivist crimes and other offenses to determine if one is later eligible for ARD.

° Clean Slate Exceptions- The new Clean Slate Act passed in 2018, will provide for the automatic sealing of some criminal offenses after 10 years. The 10 year period begins to run after final disposition. All probation or parole, fees, fines and costs must be paid prior to the 10 year period commencing. Not included in the Clean Slate Act are all crimes of violence (simple assault); Article D (crimes against family); Ch. 61 offenses (weapons); Offenses under 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 9799.14 (sex offenders and tiers) and § 9799.55 (requiring registration with PSP); and cruelty to animals.

Clean Slate Disqualifiers- A felony; 2 or more convictions of offenses graded as a second-degree misdemeanor or higher; four or more convictions of offenses graded as a felony or misdemeanor; certain enumerated offenses- notably, indecent exposure.

Pardon. A pardon is a constitutional process whereby an individual files an application with the Board of Pardons. PA CONST art. 4, § 9. If a hearing is granted with the Board and recommended to the Governor, the Governor may sign the Pardon. This has the effect of an expungement. This process takes between 3-5 years. It is applicable to all crimes except impeachment. It is my office’s recommendation that at least 10 years expire from the date last on supervision until a pardon application is made. An applicant should demonstrate no further criminal record, substantial steps at rehabilitation and positive life changes.