Arrest on criminal charges leaves a public trail of documentation. Regardless of whether charges are dismissed or an individual found not guilty, a record of the action remains. In our digital age, even a hint of criminal malfeasance during a background check can eliminate future employment and other opportunities.
In Berks County, and throughout Pennsylvania, expungement[H1] of certain records is possible, including the following:
- Summary offenses: Provided a defendant has been free of arrest or prosecution for five years following conviction, summary offenses like disorderly conduct and theft of services are eligible for expungement under Pennsylvania law. Defendants are eligible to have their underage drinking offenses expunged at age 21 if their sentences have been satisfied and they have remained free from arrest or prosecution for five years following conviction.
- Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) offenses: ARD[H2] is a diversionary program allowing first-time offenders, typically individuals arrested on driving under the influence (DUI), to complete court-ordered programs and serve a probationary period. Criminal records are eligible for expungement upon completion of the program. Individuals arrested subsequent to completion of the ARD program are considered second offenders, and subject to harsh sentencing consequences.
- Records of non-conviction: Files referencing arrest matters not resulting in conviction are eligible for expungement.
While expungement is an opportunity to remove a record of arrest in Reading or Kutztown from criminal justice record systems in Pennsylvania, information already harvested by private record services remains susceptible to discovery years later in other geographic locations.
Keeping a clean record is important for many reasons. If you have a record, talk to a defense attorney about steps you can take to make a public matter private.