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Proposed Bill Would Allow Nonviolent Misdemeanors to be Expunged

A new bill proposed by Pennsylvania lawmakers earlier this summer would allow state citizens convicted of nonviolent misdemeanors to seek the expungement of their criminal records.

Under the proposed law, judges would have the power to partially seal criminal records in specific cases. People who were convicted of second- and third-degree nonviolent misdemeanors could ask judges to expunge their records, sealing them to everyone except law enforcement officials. Of course, anyone who wishes to have their records expunged would have to demonstrate they have maintained a crime-free life since being convicted of the misdemeanor in question.

Rep. Jordan Harris (D-Philadelphia) said the bill could help people who are struggling to find work because minor criminal charges show up on their background checks. He says he believes Pennsylvania citizens who have served their time and refrained from getting into further legal trouble deserve a chance to work and live freely in the state.

Providing more fairness for Pennsylvania residents

There are about 300,000 residents with criminal records in Philadelphia County alone, accounting for about 20 percent of the county’s total population. This proposed bill would grant a sizeable portion of that group a second chance and help many people get back on their feet through easier access to employment and educational opportunities.

The proposal also stipulates that anyone who has been convicted of a second-degree misdemeanor would have to refrain from committing any criminal offenses for 10 years before petitioning for an expungement. Individuals convicted of third-degree misdemeanors would be required to wait seven years. The bill has the support of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association.

To learn more about expunging a criminal record, consult trusted Reading criminal defense attorney David R. Eshelman.

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