What You Need To Know About Expungement in Pennsylvania

What You Need To Know About Expungement in Pennsylvania

When a past mistake threatens your future prospects, understanding expungement procedures in Pennsylvania can offer a fresh start that you may not even know existed. Simply put, expungement is the legal process of clearing conviction records or arrest information from one’s public criminal record. 

Understanding what situations are eligible for expungement and what you need to do to complete this process is essential.

Eligibility for Expungement in Pennsylvania

Knowing whether your Pennsylvania criminal record qualifies for expungement is crucial to taking your first step toward a fresh start. Based on Pennsylvania law, you may be eligible for expungement in the following scenarios: 

Convictions for Summary Offenses

If you’ve been convicted of a summary offense, you could qualify for expungement if you’ve had no new arrests or prosecutions for another crime in the five years following your conviction date. Examples of summary offenses include disorderly conduct, harassment, shoplifting or retail theft, and public intoxication. 

Arrest Records in Certain Cases

Expungement could be possible for arrest records where no case disposition is recorded within 18 months from the arrest date or where the charges were dismissed with no conviction. 

Completed Pretrial Diversion Programs

Individuals may be able to resolve their cases through an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program. This pretrial diversionary program offers some first-time or non-violent offenders a chance for rehabilitation rather than traditional punishment. After completing the program, someone may also be eligible to expunge their record in most cases. 

If you have a conviction that involves underage alcohol consumption, purchase, or possession (when you were 18 to 20 years old) and you’ve since fulfilled all the terms of your sentence, you can apply for expungement once you turn 21. 

70 Years Old or Older

Individuals who are at least 70 years old could have their criminal record expunged in some circumstances if they remained free from arrests or new prosecutions for 10 years.

Expungement in Pennsylvania can be a complex legal process, and eligibility varies depending on your individual circumstances. The best way to determine if your record is eligible for expungement is to contact a criminal defense lawyer.

Expungement Is Different Than Sealing

When it comes to clearing your criminal history, understanding the difference between expungement and sealing is crucial as they are different but often used interchangeably, which can lead to confusion. 


When expungement occurs, it is as though the incident never happened for most practical purposes. The defendant’s conviction is physically erased from public criminal records. This process enhances your employment, housing, and education opportunities by not showing up during background checks conducted by most employers and landlords. Expunged records remain accessible only to select entities like law enforcement agencies and courts upon explicit request.

Sealing Records

Alternatively, when a record is sealed through a judge’s order, the record isn’t destroyed but is hidden from the public eye. Sealing ensures that private entities such as landlords and most employers cannot access these criminal records during background checks. 

However, some entities, like law enforcement agencies, child protective services, and professional licensing boards, still have access under certain circumstances. Sealing records may be an option in a wider range of offenses, including some misdemeanors

To determine which avenue is the best for your situation, contact a criminal defense lawyer for assistance.

How To File for Expungement in Pennsylvania 

Filing for expungement in Pennsylvania is a multi-step process that often involves dealing with complex legal forms, strict deadlines, and courtroom procedures. Here’s a brief overview:

File a Petition

The expungement process starts by completing a petition to expunge your records. You must file this request with the court where the case was initially handled.

Response from the District Attorney

Once you’ve submitted your petition application in line with state guidelines and paid the associated filing fees, it is sent to the District Attorney. They then have to consent to or oppose your motion.

If they object, a hearing can be scheduled to further clarify and discuss your expungement petition.

Expungement Hearing

If a hearing is scheduled, your appearance in court may be required. At this hearing, the prosecutor and your attorney can present each of their respective sides about why an expungement is or is not warranted. 

Approval and Finalization

Provided all parties involved are in agreement, or if the judge rules that you are entitled to an expungement after the hearing, they will sign the Expungement Order. Upon receiving this signed order from the court, your records pertaining to that specific case are ordered to be erased.

A Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help You Navigate Expungement

Understanding expungement in Pennsylvania and successfully navigating its procedures offers you a way to close the door to past mistakes and move forward with your life. If you have questions or need help with the process, it is essential to contact an expungement attorney and learn more about your options. 

Contact Our Expungement Law Firm in West Chester, PA

If you are facing criminal charges and need legal help, contact the West Chester, PA Expungement lawyers at DiCindio Law, LLC to schedule a free initial consultation.

DiCindio Law, LLC
29 S Walnut St
West Chester, PA 19382
(610) 430-3535