Beginning on Friday, June 28, 2019 millions of Pennsylvanians became eligible to have criminal records sealed when the Clean Slate law took effect.
The Clean Slate law, which passed with a mere unanimous vote, was signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf. This new law expands criminal records sealing to include most types of offenses, including first-degree misdemeanors. These records can be sealed by filing petitions with the court.
The new law also creates an automated computer process to seal arrests that did not result in convictions within sixty (60) days, summary convictions after ten (10) years, and some second and third degree misdemeanor convictions if there are no subsequent misdemeanor or felony convictions for a period of ten (10) years after the time of the conviction.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is the first state in the country to pass the Clean Slate law and remains the only state with this particular law.
The Clean Slate law is aimed at reducing the stigma that people with criminal records face while they are looking for employment, looking to gain a further education, and looking to gain access to housing.
The Clean Slate law, however, does not allow for record sealing of more serious crimes, such as firearm offenses, homicide, sexual assault, child endangerment, and other violent crimes.
It is also important to know that while the records are being sealed, they are not being destroyed as they would be if the record itself was expunged. Under this new law, landlords and most employers will not be able to look up your criminal past, but law enforcement will be able to do so. Additionally, employers who are required by federal law to consider criminal records will still have access to your sealed records, as well as those who use FBI background checks in the hiring process, which include entities such as banks, law enforcement, hospitals, and schools.
To determine if your prior criminal offense is eligible to be sealed through the new Clean Slate law, contact one of our attorneys.