Is your criminal record eligible for a clean slate?

by | Jan 29, 2018 | Expungement, Record Sealing

Whether you’re a student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania or have recently graduated college and are planting roots here in Pennsylvania, the last thing you need is a marred criminal record impeding your chances for success. Many people have things in their past they wish they could erase. People make mistakes. Some, perhaps yourself included, have made legal mistakes that resulted in criminal convictions.

Whether you have a DUI on your record or an assault conviction for a fight you got into at a college party, you don’t want the residual effects following you through life. If you fulfilled your sentence, you are free to move on in life and shouldn’t have to worry that a landlord may choose not to rent you an apartment or a prospective employer might hesitate to hire you because of what is written in your criminal history. There’s a legal process that might help alleviate such stress.

Are you eligible for expungement?

Expungement is also sometimes called expunction. Both terms refer to a process that involves sealing a criminal record from public view. In essence, if the state expunges your record, it is as though it’s been cleared. There are various requirements and stipulations that might impact your situation, however. The following list explains more about the process and also how to find out if you are eligible to apply:

  • Expungement is often available to those convicted of crimes. If this applies to you, you must have fulfilled all obligations of your sentence before you ask the court to grant an expungement.
  • The court does not guarantee expungement nor is the process ever automatic.
  • You must file a formal legal petition for a judge’s review if you wish to ask the court to seal your criminal record.
  • Some states do not offer expungements. Those that do may have different requirements or rules about the process. You must seek clarification of the Pennsylvania expungement laws if you wish to petition a court in this state.
  • Sometimes, prosecutors must approve an expungement request before it is filed in court.
  • There are also certain crimes that may exclude you from eligibility to apply for expungement.

It’s understandable that you don’t want something that happened in college to follow you through life, causing complications and obstacles whenever you try to get a job or rent housing. There are likely thousands of people throughout the state who feel the same about past incidents in their own lives. Having a chance to wipe the slate clean of a criminal record may be just what a person needs to get life back on track.

Support is available

Because such legal processes are complex, it is often difficult to try to navigate the system all alone. This is why most Pennsylvania post-sentence defendants ask defense attorneys to represent them in the expungement process.