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First Phase of Clean Slate Bill Goes into Effect in Pennsylvania

January 31, 2019

By van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim

There’s good news for Pennsylvanians! The Clean Slate bill that was signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf in June of 2018 has now started to take effect. This new legislation now provides hope for anyone that has been convicted of minor misdemeanor charges in the past ten years. For those that have misdemeanors on their criminal record more recent than the past decade, they too can now anticipate that their slates too, will be wiped clean in several years.

Bill 1419

House Bill 1419 passed through the Pennsylvania legislature in June with bipartisan support. The bill allows certain cases to be sealed from public view after a certain amount of time has passed. Misdemeanors can be sealed from public record after ten years. Those convicted of summary offenses will now be eligible to have their records sealed after five years.

With the passing of the bill, those with minor offenses on their record no longer need to report convictions to landlords, colleges or universities, or anyone else that may have a mark on their criminal record.

Those convicted do not even need to petition the court to have their record sealed, as they once did. Instead, misdemeanors will be automatically sealed as long as the individual has gone ten years without a new conviction on their record. Any records of arrests that did not result in a conviction will also be automatically sealed.

The first part of the law went into effect in December of 2018. Pennsylvania is the first state to enact such legislation.

Sealed, not Expunged

It is important that those eligible to have their records sealed understand that the offense will still appear on their permanent record. However, because they are now sealed, they will not be available to the public. Expunging a record involves destroying any evidence that a conviction occurred, essentially making it as though it never happened.

House Bill 1419 does not include anything about expunging records of those charged with minor offenses. Expungement is still covered under Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, Title 18. Under this statute, a person may only have their record expunged if they are:

  • Over 70 years old and has not had any new arrests or convictions for the past ten years after release from prison,
  • An individual with a conviction on their record has been deceased for three years, or
  • When the individual with a conviction petitions the court for an expungement of a summary offense and has not had any arrests or convictions for five years following the offense being petitioned for expungement

Speak to a Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyer that Can Help

While House Bill 1419 allows for some criminal records to be automatically sealed, it does not mean all those in Pennsylvania will be included under the new law. Anyone with an arrest or conviction on their record that would like it to be sealed or expunged should speak to a criminal defense lawyer in Pennsylvania that can help. An attorney can help those with criminal convictions petition the courts. This can help ensure that the petition will be granted, and that the record will be ultimately sealed or expunged.

If you have a mark on your criminal record and you would like it to be sealed or expunged, call us at van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim today at (215) 486-0123. We’ll review your case with you and then advise on whether or not you’ll be able to get a conviction or arrest effectively removed from your record. This is the best way to fully regain your freedom, and we can help you do it!



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