PA's New Expungement Law

Earlier this year, the Pennsylvania legislature voted on and passed Senate Bill 166 (SB 166), which amends 18 Pa.C.S. §9122 (PA's Expungement Statute) to allow for the expungement of nonviolent 2nd and 3rd degree misdemeanor convictions. The legislative intent behind the bill is to ease the burden on former offenders attempting to enter the workforce. The bill is clearly a step in the right directions and is scheduled to be signed into law by Governor Wolf this morning at 10:00 a.m.

The Specifics

Under the new law, a conviction for a nonviolent 2nd degree misdemeanor offense committed when the individual was less than 25 years of age is eligible for expungement after 10 crime-free years. A conviction for a nonviolent 3rd degree misdemeanor offense is eligible for expungement after 7 crime-free years.

It is important to note that expungement is not automatic under the new law and will be granted solely at the discretion of the court. This means that even if a conviction meets all the eligibility criteria, a judge may deny the expungement motion after reviewing all the facts of the case. The prosecutor is also allowed to provide an argument to the court and to be heard if they disagree that expungement should be granted. 

The new law will not go into effect until 270 days after Governor Wolf signs it, which means that courts will begin to process the new set of expungements starting around November 2016. 

Prior Expungement Law

Before the enactment of SB 166, misdemeanor and felony convictions were not eligible for expungement, regardless of how much time had passed. An individual's criminal history could only be expunged in three very limited situations: (1) when a person reached age 70 and had been arrest and prosecution-free for ten years following his release from confinement or the end of his probation or parole; (2) when a person had been dead for three years; or (3) when a person petitioned the court for the expungement of a summary offense and had been free of arrest or prosecution for 5 years following the conviction for that offense.

Final Thoughts

The enactment of SB 166 is a positive step toward removing the stigma associated with a criminal conviction from rehabilitated nonviolent offenders in Pennsylvania. It should increase employment opportunities for ex-convicts while providing an extra incentive to remain crime-free. 

If you are interested in having your criminal record expunged, call or text (412) 589-9422 for a free consultation with an Expungement Attorney at Bishop Law immediately. We are available 24/7!