PA'S NEW EXPUNGEMENT LAW PERMITS RECORD SEALING OF 2ND DEGREE, 3RD DEGREE AND UNGRADED MISDEMEANORS
Last year, a 67-year old gentleman called our office seeking to expunge a decades-old misdemeanor marijuana possession conviction. We informed him that he could pursue a pardon, or wait until he reached the age of 70 before he could pursue an expungement.
Fortunately, in January of 2016, the legislature passed Senate Bill 166, which will ease the burden on certain types of former offenders who have lived a law-abiding lifestyle since their prosecution for certain types of misdemeanor offenses.
ORDER OF LIMITED ACCESS
By passing Senate Bill 166, the Pennsylvania legislature created Section 9122.1 of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code, which allows for an Order of Limited Access to be issued by the Court of Common Pleas under limited circumstances.
Unlike a standard expungement, an Order of Limited Access does not lead to the destruction of your criminal record. This order simply directs the record repositories to not disclose criminal record information to others except for criminal justice agencies and certain government agencies. However, certain employers and educational institutions will be prevented from obtaining your criminal record information.
ELIGIBILITY FOR ORDER OF LIMITED ACCESS
A person is eligible for an Order for Limited Access if:
- The offense is a 2nd-Degree Misdemeanor, 3rd-Degree Misdemeanor or an ungraded Misdemeanor;
- The offense carries a maximum possible sentence of 2 years or less;
- The offense is non-violent;
- The person remained free from arrest for 10 years after their conviction or release from jail or probationary supervision. For example, if a person was convicted in 2000 for M2 Theft, and successfully completed a 2-year probationary period, the person must remain free from arrest from 2002-2012 before becoming eligible.
NON-ELIGIBILITY FOR ORDER OF LIMITED ACCESS
You are not eligible to obtain an order of limited access if:
- The offense carries a maximum possible sentence of over 2 years in jail (i.e. second drug possession conviction);
- The offense is a 1st-Degree Misdemeanor or Felony;
- The person has been convicted of 4 or more offenses punishable by imprisonment of 1 or more years in jail;
- The offense is an M2 Simple Assault;
- The offense is Sexual Intercourse with an Animal;
- The offense is Impersonating a Public Servant;
- The offense is Victim or Witness Intimidation, or Retaliation Against a Victim or Witness;
- The offense is Intimidation, Retaliation or Obstruction in a child abuse case; or
- The offense requires the person to register as a sex offender.
HOW TO OBTAIN AN ORDER FOR LIMITED ACCESS
When the legislature passed Senate Bill 166 on February 16, 2016, a 270-day waiting period was incorporated into the bill. This act will not become effective until November 12, 2016.
Eligible persons must first file a Petition for Order of Limited Access with the Clerk of Courts in the county where the charge originated. The Clerk of Courts will charge a filing fee of $132.00.
Within 10 days from the date the petition is filed, the Courts must notify the local District Attorney's office about the petition. The DA's office then has 30 days from the date they received notice to file objections to the petition. If no objection is filed, the Court may grant the petition without scheduling a hearing if the petition is correct and the person is eligible. If objections are filed, the Court may schedule a hearing to determine whether or not the petition should be granted.
The Zuckerman Law Firm prepares and files Expungement Petitions for clients throughout Western Pennsylvania, and will begin assisting those interested in pursuing an Order for Limited Access. For a free consultation, call 412-447-5580 today.