News and Events
Expungement and Limited Access to Criminal Records:
What you need to know!
As of November 14, 2016, a new Pennsylvania law will limit public access to criminal records for certain individuals previously convicted with crimes. Those individuals, who have successfully completed the terms of their sentence and have remained crime free for at least 10 years, may benefit from this new law and may qualify to have their criminal record sealed.
Sealing Minor Criminal Records
Individuals may petition the courts for an order limiting access to information about certain second and third degree misdemeanors. Pennsylvania currently has existing expungement laws that delete and remove certain information from public view. The primary goal of this new law is to seal records of minor crimes to remove barriers to employment, housing and education.
What is ” Expungement”?
In Pennsylvania, all criminal and summary cases filed with a court, including those that do not result in convictions, are posted online for public viewing. These cases may also be reported by consumer reporting agencies. An expungement is a legal order that destroys and removes a criminal record from public view and restricts access to law-enforcement agencies.
What information is eligible for expungement?
Pennsylvania allows all offenses that resulted in no conviction to be expunged. This includes being found not guilty of charges, as well as information about charges that are withdrawn or dismissed and not prosecuted “nolle prossed.” In addition, charges that lead to involvement in a diversionary program such as ARD (Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition) can be expunged if the program is successfully completed. Information of an offense that resulted in a conviction is eligible for expungement if one of the following conditions is met:
· The conviction is a summary offense and the individual has not been arrested for five or more years. For example, disorderly conduct, simple trespass, public consumption of alcoholic beverages and retail theft (if it is a first offense and the value of the merchandise is less than $150).
· The individual is over age 70 and has not been arrested for 10 or more years.
· The subject of the expungement petition has been dead for three years or more.
· The individual receives a pardon from the governor for a conviction.
What are the changes in the 2016 law that limit access to criminal records?
The amended law limits access to information about some misdemeanor convictions to specific entities such as law enforcement and state licensing agencies. The limited-access provision can be requested for second or third-degree misdemeanor convictions, provided that the responsible individual has completed all punishment and has had a clear record for at least 10 years. Second and third degree misdemeanors include crimes such as criminal trespassing, vandalism and indecent assault. The law excludes some individuals from the limited-access process; for example, offenses punishable by more than two years in prison, four or more offenses punishable by one or more years in jail, some subsets of misdemeanor simple-assault offenses, some subsets of sex-crimes offenses, some subsets of witness-intimidation offenses and offenses that require Megan’s Law registration are excluded.
Record Sealing Checklist
A person must be free from charge, arrest and conviction for at least 10 years.
A person who meets the 10-year condition can NEVER have been convicted of:
What is the process to obtain limited access to criminal records?
If you qualify for this relief, you must file a petition with the court of common pleas in the county where the case was filed. Once the petition is filed, the district attorney’s office receives notice and has an opportunity to file an objection. Ultimately the judge assigned to the matter will decide whether to grant or deny the petition.
We can assist you with the expungement or sealing process from petition to hearing to notifying all agencies of the expungement or sealing and removal of any criminal record history.
To schedule a FREE consultation,
Nancy Marchese, Pa.C.P.
IGNITION INTERLOCK LIMITED LICENSE
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has signed a bill into law that provides for an “Ignition Interlock Limited License” as well as the ability for first time offenders to avoid license suspension by using an ignition interlock. SB 290 has been signed into law as of May 25, 2016, and will now be known as 2016 Act 33. Sponsor of the bill, Sen. John Rafferty, R-Berks, stated, “Similar laws are in place in 15 states, and according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, recidivism rates have dropped by as much as 60 percent.” This bill will take into effect by August of 2017.
Under the bill, first-time DUI drivers convicted with BAC readings between 0.10 percent and 0.15 percent could avoid the normal one-year license suspension they face by seeking a new ignition interlock license. The special license would permit driving when a breath-testing device is used that prevents the engine from starting if the driver’s breath test measures above the BAC standard, allowing first-time offenders to drive and maintain jobs rather than have a suspended license. If you have been admitted into your county’s ARD program, this does not apply to you as your license suspension time will typically only be for 30-60 days.
The bill also modifies the Occupational Limited License (OLL) statute to exclude issuance of an OLL when there is a violation of Pennsylvania’s DUI statutes or if there is a refusal to submit to chemical testing. So, the only option under Pennsylvania law in order to drive before the one-year license suspension ends under these circumstances would be to apply for the new Ignition Interlock Limited License.
Ignition Interlock Licenses have a red banner that contain the words “Limited License” along with a red map of Pennsylvania in the lower right corner stating the type of limitation—in this case it will say “Ignition Interlock” inside the map.
What can you do if you cannot afford the ignition interlock system? Individuals whose income is below 200% of the poverty level may apply for a Hardship Exemption. The hardship exemption allows the individual to have it installed in only one vehicle. Individuals who own no vehicles will be able to comply with the ignition interlock requirement by having an ignition interlock vendor certify that they own no vehicles and apply for the ignition interlock license.
It is important to note that if you choose to apply for the Ignition Interlock Limited License, you must have that license and the ignition interlock hardware for one year from the date when the license was issued and not from the date of the initial license suspension. You must also keep and maintain this hardware during that time period; failure to do so could result in an extension of the ignition interlock period as well as other fines and costs.
If a person with an ignition interlock limited license is required in the course and scope of employment to drive, operate or be in actual physical control of the movement of a motor vehicle owned by the person’s employer for an employment exemption, that person may operate the vehicle after certain prerequisites are met. Your employer must be notified that you have the ignition interlock restriction and you must carry proof of your employer’s notification of the restriction. Note that this does not apply to school bus drivers, or if the employer owned motor vehicle is made available to the employee for personal use.
This act also officially limits chemical testing by breath or blood only for the purpose of determining the alcoholic concentration of blood or the presence of a controlled substance. Previously, the law also provided for chemical tests by urinalysis. This is due to the recent unfavorable court rulings which have cast doubt on the accuracy and admissibility of urine as a determinant for blood alcohol content.
Hiring the right attorney who can give you the right advice can make all the difference in the world. If you find yourself arrested for a DUI, make sure you have a capable attorney on your side.
Attorney Brandon H. Zanan will be aggressive and will fight to make sure that your rights are protected so that you and your family can move on with your lives.
Call (610) 489-3300 for a FREE consultation.