Understanding PA’s New Clean Slate Law and How It Might Apply to Your Case
Pennsylvania’s Clean Slate Law went into effect in December 2018, and has made the process of sealing your criminal record much easier. When your record is sealed, it is no longer accessible by the general public–only law enforcement and employers who conduct in-depth background checks can access them. If you think you might be eligible, you should look into it. Sealing your record can give you the ability to put the past behind you and to focus on your career and family life without the weight of a criminal record on your shoulders.
Not all records are eligible for sealing, which is important to bear in mind if you are now considering whether to plead guilty to a criminal offense. If you are being charged with a violent misdemeanor or a felony, that guilty plea will result in a conviction that will most likely stick with you for the rest of your life, since it is not eligible for sealing. For this reason, it’s essential that you talk with an experienced Pittsburgh criminal defense lawyer before pleading guilty to your charges. Call Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC today at (412) 281-2146 or use our online contact form for a consultation about the potential defenses to your charges.
Pennsylvania Makes it Easier to Seal Nonviolent Misdemeanor Convictions
The Clean Slate Act gives a second chance to people who have had a run in with the law. The authorities are currently working on an automatic sealing procedure that will take care of your case without you or your lawyer having to do a thing. The automatic system will seal records of:
- Arrests that don’t result in convictions within 60 days
- Summary offenses within 10 years
- Non violent second and third degree misdemeanors within 10 years
For you to benefit from the process, however, some conditions apply. First, you must have paid all the fines and court costs associated with your conviction. Second, you must not receive any felony or misdemeanor convictions during the ten year waiting period. This means that if you get convicted of a crime in the meantime, you lose your eligibility to have your records sealed.
Furthermore, the automatic sealing process will not begin until sometime between June 2019 and June 2020. So if you want your records sealed before then, you will need to fill out a petition for the sealing of your records, and submit it to the clerk of the court where you were convicted. The process is relatively straightforward, but you may want a lawyer to assist with the process to ensure your success.
How a Pittsburgh Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help Seal Your Records
When you consult with your lawyer, they will first determine whether your conviction falls into one of the categories of eligible offenses, and determine whether you’ve had any other criminal convictions that could bar you from relief under the Clean Slate Act. It may also turn out that your record is eligible for expungement if you were convicted of a summary offense, you performed Alternative Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD), or you did not get charged following your arrest. Expungement is more beneficial than sealing because it involves the physical destruction of your record. It’s as if the offense never happened.
Your criminal conviction doesn’t necessarily have to follow you for the rest of your life. You should take steps to sealing your record if it is possible, because it will vastly improve your ability to get a job. If you don’t have time to wait another year for the automatic sealing process to begin, you should work with a lawyer to get it done now. Call Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC today at (412) 281-2146 or use our online contact form for a free consultation about whether your record is eligible for sealing under the Clean Slate Act.