Clearing The Path Forward

Clearing the path to the future begins with analyzing exactly what is on your criminal history. Charges without dispositions, misdemeanors without convictions, misdemeanor convictions, and felony convictions are all handled differently. That is why everything begins with getting a PA criminal record report. Then, we can determine what can be cleared with expungements, record-sealing, and pardons and can work to clear your PA criminal record.

About Expungements

About Pardons

Expungements in PA

Expungements can be filed under the authority of Pennsylvania’s expungement statute – 18 PACSA 9122. This statute contains a list of what can be erased through the filing of an expungement petition. It is NOT meant to erase misdemeanor or felony convictions, which must be reviewed for possible record-sealing or applying for a pardon.

Expungement Petitions & What They Can Erase

  • Summary Expungement in PA: This petition erases a summary conviction from someone’s record. House Bill 1543 creates the right to expunge a single summary offense when five years have elapsed since the date of conviction – when there is no criminal prosecutions for the following five years. The most issued summary citations that affect young people are retail theft, harassment, disorderly conduct and public drunkenness – these would all be eligible for expungement after five years.
  • Juvenile Record Expungement in PA: This petition is filed to remove juvenile court prosecutions for misdemeanors or felonies after the offender turns 18 (with the consent of the District Attorney), or after five years, with no intervening criminal conduct. See our post about clearing a juvenile’s criminal record in PA.
  • ARD Expungement in PA: Some crimes, like Driving Under the Influence (1st offense) are put into a program called ARD. ARD allows someone to do probation without conviction. Since there is not a conviction, after successful completion of the program, the criminal history showing that the crime was charged can be erased.
  • Section 17 Expungement in PA: Section 17 is a special diversionary program, much like ARD. It allows one to complete probation without a conviction. It is typically presented for possession of marijuana or paraphernalia. If you received a Section 17 disposition, your record can be cleared.
  • Charges that were withdrawn, dismissed or Nol-prossed in PA: Charges that were brought that did not result in a conviction may still be on your criminal history. These may be eligible for expungement.
  • Limited Expungement – Record Sealing in PA: Act 5 of 2015 allows smaller non-violent misdemeanors can be ‘sealed’ after 10 years of law abiding behavior with certain limitations. While the police will be able to see the convictions, they do not have to be disclosed to employers and employers should not be able to find them.
  • Charges that have been pardoned in PA: If you have received a Pardon from the Governor of Pennsylvania, the charges become expungeable.
  • Convictions if you are over 70 years of age in PA: Seniors do NOT have to go through the Pardon process. Any felony or misdemeanor conviction can be expunged if there has been no criminal supervision in the preceding 10 years.

PA Expungement FAQs

Who is eligible for expungements in Pennsylvania?

Many people are eligible. Specifically:

  • Those with charges that were dismissed, withdrawn or nol-prossed
  • Those with a summary conviction
  • Those with juvenile records
  • Those with ARD dispositions
  • Those with a ‘Section 17’ disposition
  • Those who are over 70
  • Those who have been dead for three years
  • Those with underage consumption convictions
  • Those with convictions that have been pardoned
What are the exclusions for expungement under ARD?

Someone who received ARD for one of the following offenses may
not have the record expunged if the victim is under the age of 18.

  • Section 3121 (relating to rape).
  • Section 3122.1 (relating to statutory sexual assault).
  • Section 3123 (relating to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse).
  • Section 3124.1 (relating to sexual assault).
  • Section 3125 (relating to aggravated indecent assault).
  • Section 3126 (relating to indecent assault).
  • Section 3127 (relating to indecent exposure).
  • Section 5902(b) (relating to prostitution and related offenses).
  • Section 5903 (relating to obscene and other sexual materials and performances).
How long does an expungement take in PA?

Pennsylvania expungements can be filed at the County Court level. The petition can be prepared and filed within 30 days, the Court may take 30 days to review it, the District Attorneys may wish to take a position on the petition. Once the Court signs the Order, it must be circulated to the appropriate agencies, who are supposed to respond within 30 days, although they are currently backlogged.

Is the expungement guaranteed?

No. Depending on which expungement is applicable, the PA District Attorney’s office may support the expungement, or oppose the expungement, or ask for a hearing after which the Court decides. Don’t go at it alone. We can help you!

How much does it cost to apply (file) for an expungement in Pennsylvania?

The rates vary depending on the services required, but can be quoted by email or a phone call.

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Can you help with record expungement in Pennsylvania?

Yes. Find out about our criminal record erasing services here.


PA Governor’s Board of Pardons

Pardons refer to a constitutional procedure by which the Governor’s Board of Pardons reviews an application for ‘clemency’ (which asks to have the applicant’s criminal conduct ‘pardoned’, or forgiven).

This procedure is more powerful than expungement, redaction, or record sealing – summary convictions can be pardoned, and also felony and misdemeanor convictions.

Pennsylvania’s Board consists of five Board members, 3 of whom must support the application for it to be ‘recommended’ to the Governor. If the Governor approves, the Pardon is granted, and then an expungement petition can be filed in the County Court to remove the offending history.

The Board seems to weigh and consider several factors:

  • The nature of the crimes and what led to their commission;
  • Whether the Petitioner accepts responsibility for the conduct;
  • The amount of time that has passed since the crimes;
  • The hardship that is being created by the criminal history – education, licensing, occupational, clearances, etc…
  • How the Petitioner has contributed to society since the crime.

While there are no guarantees as to whether an application will be granted, the Board has been receptive to the granting of clemency to a wide variety of offenses based on the criteria above.

PA Pardon FAQs

Who is eligible for a Pardon in Pennsylvania?

Virtually any offense or combination of offenses can be pardoned. The PA Governor’s Board of Pardons will examine the nature of the charges, the reason for the charges, the time that has passed, what the person has done with their life since the charges, and what hardships the person faces because of the criminal history.

Not sure if you have a record in Pennsylvania? Get a PA criminal background check here.

Want to erase your PA criminal record? We can help.

How long does a person have to wait to apply for a Pardon?

That is up to the Board of Pardons. They consider several factors.

How long does it take to get a Pardon in Pennsylvania?

The pardon process in Pennsylvania can take years to be invited to have a hearing before the Board. After the Board makes a recommendation, the Governor can take 6 months or more to sign the pardon. Then, the record can be expunged.

Is the Pardon guaranteed?

No. Because the Board of Pardons considers and weighs so many factors, it is not guaranteed. It is however the only avenue available for those with felony and misdemeanor convictions.

How much does it cost to apply (file) for a Pardon in Pennsylvania?

The rates vary depending on the services required, but can be quoted by email or a phone call.

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