Pennsylvania Pardons & Expungements

EXPUNGEMENTS

The Pennsylvania Expungement Lawyers at Czekaj Dusharm LLC are experienced and deliver successful results for our expungement Clients.  Our attorneys will help you clear your record from past arrests or convictions that occurred anywhere in Pennsylvania. Expungement refers to the process where records of a prior criminal charge, arrest, and related court proceedings are erased and destroyed by the courts and other agencies in possession of such records.

Under current Pennsylvania law, there are several circumstances which may allow you to qualify for an expungement of your prior arrest or conviction:

♦ If you have ever been arrested or charged with a with a criminal offense, the record of that arrest continues to exist unless it is expunged.  This record may be found in various locations, including on the Pennsylvania Unified Court System's online docketing system, in the form of police reports, photographs, fingerprints, court records, and may continue to appear on any FBI or State Police background check run by potential employers.  If the charges were dismissed, “nolle prossed”, or withdrawn for lack of evidence, or if you were found not guilty after trial, you may qualify for an expungement. In short, if you were charged with a crime but those charges never resulted in a conviction, you may be eligible to have the record expunged.  Even if you were never convicted, the fact that you were once charged with a crime may continue to cause difficulty if the charges are not expunged.

♦ In some situations, criminal charges may be dismissed after successful completion of a diversion program such as Section 17 or Section 18 dispositions, ARD (Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition), or a Rule 586 Disposition. After successful completion of these programs, provided you never entered a guilty plea or received a conviction, you are eligible to have the record expunged.

♦ If you were convicted of a summary offense and have been free of arrest or prosecution for five (5) years, you may be eligible for an expungement.

♦ If you were adjudicated delinquent (essentially the juvenile court equivalent of a criminal conviction) for certain juvenile or youthful offenses committed when you were a minor and you were prosecuted through the juvenile justice system, you may qualify for an expungement.

♦ If you were convicted of certain underage alcohol offenses, you may qualify for an expungement.

♦ If you are seventy (70) years old and you have had no arrests or criminal prosecutions in the past ten (10) years you may qualify for an expungement.

♦ If you have received a pardon from the Governor, you qualify for an expungement for the pardoned offense(s).

♦ Finally, anyone who has been deceased for three (3) years qualifies for a posthumous expungement of their criminal record.

Under current Pennsylvania law, if you were convicted of, or pled guilty to a criminal offense under most other circumstances, you will not be eligible for an expungement at this time without first receiving a Governor’s Pardon.  Our experienced Pennsylvania Pardon Attorney Tammy Dusharm can help you apply for a pardon from the Governor and help you navigate the complicated and lengthy process of filing an Application for Clemency through the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons. If you are successful and receive a Governor’s Pardon, your offense(s) may then be expunged.

Benefits of a Pennsylvania Expungement

Erasing your criminal record with an expungement may have many benefits:

Employment.  Employers would no longer be able to access your criminal record.  Even if you were found not guilty, many employers will not hire you simply because of an arrest record, particularly if another qualified candidate has no such record.

Renting.  Background checks are routinely performed by landlords and many landlords will not rent to individuals with a criminal record.

Professional Licensing.  It may be more difficult, or even impossible to obtain certain professional licenses with a criminal record.

Working with Children.  Many parents enjoy volunteering at their children’s school, chaperoning field trips, or coaching their children’s sports teams.  Participation in these activities often require a background check.  If the check reveals you were charged with a crime, even if the charges never resulted in conviction, you may be less likely to be approved to participate in these activities, or may be subject to embarrassment if the other community members learn of your past charges.

Security Clearance.  Many jobs, including some construction jobs involving governmental contracts, require security clearance which may be more difficult to obtain with a criminal arrest record, even if the arrest never resulted in a conviction.

Firearms/Hunting.  In some circumstances, a prior criminal conviction may disqualify you from owning or possessing a firearm.

If you have a past record of arrest or conviction and would like to clear up your record, please contact Czekaj Dusharm LLC at (717) 204-7820 to schedule a free consultation with our experienced Pennsylvania expungement attorneys so we can evaluate your case and determine whether you qualify for an expungement.

Order of Limited Access

The Pennsylvania Legislature recently passed a law which allows a quasi-expungement for people convicted of certain offenses designated as either Misdemeanor of the Second Degree (M2) or Misdemeanor of the Third Degree (M3) offenses, who have been arrest free for ten or more years. There are many exceptions to the rules, and this Order of Limited Access will not completely erase or expunge the record.  It will, however, limit the categories of individuals who will have access to the record.  For example, after receiving a Limited Access Order, most non-governmental employers would no longer receive information concerning the charges if they request a background check.  However, certain employers, licensing boards, law enforcement and governmental agencies would still have access to the information.  Therefore, if you receive such an Order, it is very important to be careful how you answer questions regarding prior charges or convictions.  Although an Order of Limited Access is not an expungement, it is a step in the right direction and may be a good step to take while awaiting a decision from the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons or Governor on your Application for Clemency/Pardon.   Contact the attorneys at Czekaj Dusharm LLC at (717) 204-7820 to discuss whether an Order of Limited Access may be of benefit to you.

PARDONS

Under current Pennsylvania law, if you do not qualify for an expungement for one of the reasons above, the only way to clear up or erase your record for most criminal convictions is to first receive a Pardon from the Governor.  A pardon is an order signed by the Governor, constituting forgiveness for the crime(s) you committed.  If a pardon is granted, it will be as if the crime never occurred; you will be eligible to receive an expungement, and will be restored to the status of never having been arrested, charged, or convicted of the offense(s).  A pardon does not automatically erase the record – we must still file for an expungement in order to erase the criminal record.  Tammy S. Dusharm is a Pennsylvania Pardon Attorney at Czekaj Dusharm LLC, and is experienced in assisting individuals with navigating the lengthy and complicated process of requesting a pardon.

Filing an Application with the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons

The process of requesting a Pennsylvania Pardon begins by filing an application with the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons.  The application must be accompanied by a number of records and documents, including the following:

  • Criminal History Report from the Pennsylvania State Police
  • Certified Driving Record
  • Completed Pardon Application
  • Copies of certain records from all court proceedings regarding all offenses for which the pardon is requested
  • Payment of filing fee
  • Any other supporting documentation, such as reference letters, commendations, diplomas, etc. that may be helpful

Merit Review Process with the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons

Approximately 1-2 years after your application is accepted for filing by the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons, your case will be considered for “merit review.”  During this process, you will meet with an agent from the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole, who will conduct a background check and prepare a report concerning your present personal status. If you reside outside the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the meeting may take place telephonically.

The individuals involved in your court case(s) will be provided an opportunity to give their input on the merits of your application, including the District Attorney, any victim(s), the sentencing Judge or sentencing Magisterial District Judge. Once all of the reports have been compiled, the five (5) Board members will review your case and will grant a hearing if two (2) of the five Board members approve. If you do not receive the required number of votes, the process has ended and you will not receive a pardon.

The Pennsylvania Board of Pardons considers many factors when evaluating Applications for Clemency/Pardon, including the nature of the offense(s), length of time since conviction, behavior since conviction, treatment received, and others.

Hearing Before the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons

Hearings are held in the Supreme Court Courtroom in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Each applicant is given fifteen minutes to make their presentation, including time for questions from the Board members and any statements by interested individuals in support of the application.

Following the applicant’s presentation, the Board will hear from any victim(s) and/or victim(s)’ family, or anyone who would like to speak in opposition to the application.

Following the public hearing session, the Board will meet in Executive Session. The Board will then reconvene to vote in public. If a majority of the Board, i.e. 3 of the 5 Board Members, vote in favor of an application, the Board recommends that the Governor grant the application. If less than a majority votes in favor, the application is denied.  The Governor may approve or disapprove any favorable recommendation submitted by the Board. Once the Governor makes his or her decision, we will receive notification from the Board.

There are no appeals from the Board’s decision.  If your application is denied, you can re-apply after 12 months from a first adverse decision or after 24 months following a second or subsequent denial.  This is why it is so important to seek the counsel of Tammy Dusharm, an experienced Harrisburg and Pennsylvania Pardon Process attorney, to ensure you are doing everything in your power to receive your pardon.

For more information regarding the process for requesting a Pennsylvania Pardon from the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons, click here.

After you Receive a Pennsylvania Pardon

After you receive a Pennsylvania pardon, it is important that you request an Order of Expungement from the Court where your conviction occurred so that all public record of your arrest, court proceedings and conviction(s) can be erased.  This will restore you to the status of no longer having the conviction(s) on your record.

Contact the experienced Pennsylvania Pardon and Expungement Attorneys at Czekaj Dusharm LLC at (717) 204-7820 to schedule a free consultation so we can help you determine if you are a good candidate for a Pardon, and assist you through the lengthy and complicated process.

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