Know What’s On Your Criminal Record in PA
The best way to begin the record erasing process is to know the exact charges that are on your record.
The Pennsylvania Expungement Code has many restrictions on what can and cannot be expunged. The same goes for Record Sealing. Act 5 of 2016 (aka Record Sealing, Limited Access), which expanded to Clean Slate in June of 2018. It holds restrictions on what can and cannot be sealed. For example, under the current laws, if convicted of a Felony, you cannot file for an expungement or record sealing, and you must apply for a Governor’s Pardon in PA. This is why knowing the specific charge on your record is crucial.
Due to strict confidentiality laws, the PA Unified Judicial System (UJS) Portal does not offer any data from the Juvenile Court System, and all information must be gathered from the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP).
The docket sheets on this portal may not be 100% accurate, or they may not show up on the web portal at all. These inaccuracies can be due to the age of the case, if the case was handled at the Magisterial District Judge level or the Common Pleas level, or if the case was handled at the Juvenile level.
However, if you’re looking to order your report, there may be additional research that is necessary to complete it.
2 Types of Criminal Records in Pennsylvania
The additional research requires requesting official records from the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) Central Repository, which holds all background check information for the State of Pennsylvania.
At the PA State Police, you can order two types of records. The differences and prices of these records are below:
1) The “Basic” Criminal History
We call this the “Basic” Criminal History Report (which you can get here), as the PA State Police have not given it a proper name, aside from “Record Check.” This is a “Basic” History because it shows only convictions. In PA, this type of record won’t include cases that were withdrawn/dismissed/*nolle prossed, cases without a disposition, and any charges that you have had sealed under Act 5.
The “Basic History” is available to any user who knows your first name, last name, date of birth, and social security number. That means your employer, best friend, significant other, etc. could order this record without your consent, as long as they have all necessary information.
The Basic Criminal History costs around $50.
*Nolle Prossed (more formally, “Nolle Prosequi” and informally “nol pros”) means that either before or during the trial, the prosecutor, or the plaintiff, decides to drop the case. See a more official definition of nolle prossed here.
2) The Full Access and Review (FAR) Criminal History
This type of history is named by the PA State Police (also called an Individual Access and Review.)
A FAR is only available to the subject of the record or their legal representative with a legal affidavit attached. Meaning, the only people who can order this record would be yourself, or your Attorney (which would be Record Eraser).
The FAR is strictly available to the subject of the record or their attorney because unlike the “Basic History” the FAR shows everything on your Pennsylvania Criminal Record. This includes convictions, non-convictions, records that have been sealed under Act 5, Juvenile records, and so on.
In fact, the Governor’s Board of Pardons requires that a FAR be included in your Pardon Application. When applying for a Pardon, the Board wants to know everything on your record to the knowledge of the PSP.
The Full Access and Review Criminal History costs around $50.
Record Eraser Will Guide You
Usually, if you believe you have a criminal conviction in Pennsylvania, but don’t know the specifics on what you plead/were found guilty for, when the disposition took place, etc., we would first order a “Basic” Criminal History. If that does not disclose the information we are looking for, we would then order a FAR.
If you’re concerned about your Juvenile record, we would order a FAR from the get-go, as the FAR is the only record where your Juvenile cases would appear.
For us to obtain a FAR, we would need a copy of your driver’s license, along with your first name, last name, date of birth, and social security number. The PSP requires your legal counsel to include a legal affidavit, along with your driver’s license to ensure they are not providing your record to an unauthorized person.
To Erase Your PA Criminal Record, we need to know which route we will take:
- Record Sealing Petition
- Expungement Petition
- Governor’s Pardon Application
Our experienced expungement and pardon attorney in PA will help you figure that out.