Being arrested and charged for a crime can negatively impact your future more than you think, effecting your personal life and limiting your opportunities professionally. Even in cases where charges were ultimately dismissed, your public record will still reflect the charges that you were arrested for.
The Pennsylvania expungement law was recently expanded in 2018 to include some violent offenses, such as aggravated assault. If you have been convicted of aggravated assault, you may be considering getting your criminal record expunged. Removing an aggravated assault criminal charge from your public record is a difficult process, but it can be done if you meet the qualifications. Find out the details of how you can seek removal of your criminal record from the public database.
What is aggravated assault?
Aggravated assault is a felony charge that is not taken lightly in the Pennsylvania justice system. Here are some examples of aggravated assault:
- Striking or the threat of striking a person with a weapon or object
- Using a firearm to shoot someone or threatening to shoot or kill someone while pointing a gun at them
- Committing assault with the intent to commit another felony crime
- Committing assault that results in serious physical injury to someone else
- Committing assault against a member of a protected class
Effects of a criminal record
When a person is charged with a crime, they may face jail time and court fees, as well as specific conditions such as probation or parole. The short-term effects are burdensome, but the long-term implications can be just as devastating. A permanent criminal record is filed with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), as well as the Pennsylvania State Police, local law enforcement, the court, and government agencies. The criminal record contains details pertaining to arrest, conviction, and any supervision details. This means that future employers are able to pull up your criminal record in a background check and see that you have a conviction for aggravated assault. This could have a big impact on current or future employment.
How to get your criminal record expunged
Because of the negative impact a criminal record can have on your life, it is important to consider getting your criminal record expunged wherever possible. Here are the steps that you need to take in the expungement process.
Step 1 – Eligibility
The very first step determines whether you will be eligible to have your record expunged. In Pennsylvania, you are eligible if you were convicted of a crime, and meet any one of the following:
- You are at least 70 years old and have had a clear record for 10 years you were released from supervision
- You have a summary offense, and were free of arrest or conviction for 5 years following the date of conviction
- No disposition was ever received or recorded by the repository within 18 months (proof must be submitted)
- The court has ordered expungement
- You are at least 21 years of age and have been convicted of a violation under Section 6308 (relating to the illegal transport or sale of alcohol) and have satisfied all the terms of sentencing, then the court will issue an order to expunge your record.
- A record can be expunged 3 years after the individual has been deceased.
Step 2 – Obtaining a background check
After determining whether you are eligible to have your record expunged, you must obtain a background check from the Pennsylvania State Police. It takes about 2-4 weeks to receive the results. This background check must be included with the petition that is filed with the court. Without the background check, the clerk of the court may rule the petition as deficient.
Step 3 – Filing the necessary filings with the Court
Filing the necessary paperwork with the court in Pennsylvania will consist of the petition, a proposed Order, a verification form, a certificate of service, a background check, along with any other additional documentation that you feel is necessary. In the case of expungement for an aggravated assault, the defendant must fill out the 790 petition form (which is specific to misdemeanors and felonies). Additionally, a filing fee of $147.00 must accompany the petition.
Step 4 – Service on the District Attorney’s Office
After filing the petition with the court, you must serve the paperwork on the District Attorney’s Office that initially prosecuted the case. In certain counties, the clerk of the court will serve the petition on your behalf, but this should be confirmed prior to filing.
Step 5 – Response from the District Attorney’s Office
After the petition and accompanying documents is served upon the Pennsylvania District Attorney’s Office, they will have the chance to decide whether or not they will consent or object to the request for expungement. Generally, the District Attorney’s Offices in Pennsylvania has 30 days from the date of service to make their decision.
If the District Attorney’s Office reaches a decision where they object, a contested hearing will have to be held where testimony, evidence, and defense must be presented as to why the Judge should grant the order of expungement.
Step 6 – Distributing the Order of Expungement
The Order for expungment can be granted by the judge without the need for hearing if the District Attorney’s office consents. Regardless how the order was granted, the next step is for the expungement orders to be forwarded to all necessary law enforcement, court, and government agencies.
The entire expungement process typically takes 4 – 6 months under most circumstances. This means that your criminal record should be cleared by all law enforcement, court, and government agencies within the 4 – 6 month time frame.
Importance of an Attorney
The expungement process requires that you file documents with the court, follow strict procedural rules and present evidence to support the expungement. In order to best represent yourself, you need the experience of a seasoned expungement lawyer. The attorneys at DiCindio Law have significant experience trying expungement cases in Pennsylvania. Contact the experience attorneys at DiCindio Law today!