Recently, a man had his conviction set aside for a murder he was accused of committing in 1990. He was charged along with another man for the murder of a women just days before Christmas 30 years ago. The second man committed suicide while he was in prison and the first has been on death row ever since his conviction.
Now, his defense attorneys have successfully had his conviction set aside, citing that the district attorney did not provide his attorneys with all of the evidence at the time of his trial. In Pennsylvania, many people confuse setting aside a conviction with expungement. However, there are important differences between the two.
Setting Aside a Conviction vs. Expungement
Expungements occur very rarely in Pennsylvania. They are generally only available when a person was charged but never convicted of a crime and for summary offenses, which are the most minor crimes. Individuals convicted with underage drinking can also have their record expunged after they complete all court orders related to the conviction. With an expungement, the criminal record is destroyed and it is as though it never happened.
When a conviction is set aside, on the other hand, the conviction and all penalties associated with it are also dismissed. In the recent story, the man was released from prison but is being held in county jail until the Pennsylvania Supreme Court makes a decision in the case, as per the request from the district attorney. Even when a person is released from prison entirely, their criminal record will show the criminal conviction. However, it will also show that the conviction has been set aside.
Many people wonder why one would go to the trouble of having a conviction set aside if it will still appear on their criminal record. There are many benefits associated with the process for those who are successful with it.
Benefits of Setting Aside a Conviction
Perhaps the biggest benefit that comes with having a conviction set aside is that an individual can avoid the penalties associated with the conviction. As in the recent story, if a person is serving jail time, they can be released and get their freedom back much sooner.
Additionally, even though the conviction will still appear on a person’s criminal record, the fact that it has been set aside will also show. This means that when employers and others perform a background check, they will see that the conviction was essentially dismissed. A person then has a much better chance of securing employment, academic opportunities, housing, and more.
Our Criminal Defense Lawyers in Allentown Can Help with Post-Conviction Relief
If you have been convicted of a crime and would now like the conviction to be expunged or set aside, our Allentown criminal defense lawyers can provide the sound legal advice you need. At van der Veen, Hartshorn and Levin, our skilled attorneys will review the facts of your case, discuss all possible options with you, and help you through the appropriate process. Call us today at (215) 486-0123 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with one of our seasoned attorneys.