PA House Passes Weakened Expungement Bill

Filed under: Criminal Law, News by Contributor @ October 31, 2015

We wrote a few months ago of how the State Senate had passed a bill to liberalize expungement in Pennsylvania.    As you’ll recall, expungement is the process by which someone convicted of certain crimes may be able to have governmental records of that event wiped clean from the system (for more on expungement generally, see this site’s primer here).  The State Senate bill was promising, expanding the list of crimes eligible for expungement.  However, the State House had other ideas, passing an amended version of the bill that severely weakens Senator Greenleaf’s Senate version.

The amendment offered by State Representative and House Judiciary Chairman Ron Marsico (R.  Dauphin County) allows a person convicted of a third-degree or second-degree misdemeanor, if at least 10 years have passed since the completion of the original sentence, an opportunity for the individual to appear before a trial judge in the county of conviction and petition for an “order for limited access ” of the criminal record.  Such a limitation of access, if granted by the judge, would not apply to criminal justice and government agencies.

What this bill does is yet to be fully determined.  Clearly, it is a very-weakened version of the Senate’s bill.   Still, if this legislation is passed by the State Senate with this amendment, it will certainly move the ball forward, allowing eligible individuals to move forward with their lives and avoid the heavy cost of collateral consequences that burden their ability to live their lives fully and joyfully.    The amended bill is available here.  

An order for limited access will not be granted to an individual who has been convicted of any of the following offenses:  (1) an offense punishable by imprisonment of more than two years; (2) four or more offenses punishable by imprisonment of one or more years; (3) simple assaults, unless of the third-degree; (4) bestiality; (5) impersonating a public servant; (6) intimidating witnesses or victims; (7) retaliation against witnesses, victims or party; (8) certain child abuse cases; and (9) cases requiring sexual offender registration.   Further, the District Attorney may file an objection to the petition for limitation of access.  The cost of filing such a petition is set at $100, with the fee distributed in thirds to the Clerk of Courts office, the Pennsylvania State Police, and the District Attorneys Office.  If passed by the Senate, this bill will not take effect for 270 days.

To speak to a Fairlie & Lippy attorney about whether your old conviction may be eligible for expungement, contact us today for a free consultation.

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