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Frequently Asked Questions About Expungement

In some circumstances, you may have your criminal record expunged, which means certain criminal offenses are erased from your record. We regularly receive questions about expungement, and so we have compiled some answers to the most common:

Do records ever get automatically expunged?

In some counties of Pennsylvania, only upon successful completion of the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program (ARD), a pre-trial diversionary program.  Otherwise, you must file an application in court and then follow all the various rules for your expungement to go through. Most juvenile records are typically sealed automatically, but individuals still need to file an application to eventually have their records fully expunged.

Why would an expungement be denied?

There are several circumstances in which an expungement could be denied. These include the following

  • Additional convictions
  • The required time period has not yet passed
  • There was a previous expungement
  • You have pending arrests
  • You were convicted of a sexual offense
  • You are a registered sex offender
  • The case is still open

What types of convictions and arrests can be expunged?

Usually, any records on file in a court, correctional facility, detention facility or law enforcement agency concerning your arrest, detention, trial or adjudication may be expunged. But under present Pennsylvania law, only summary criminal convictions can be expunged after you have been arrest or prosecution free for a period of 5 years.  Underage drinking convictions can be expunged at age 21.  Felony or misdemeanor convictions cannot be expunged in Pennsylvania.  Dismissals, not guilty verdicts are, of course, able to be expunged.

Do I have to admit to having a criminal record on a job application if my record was expunged?

The safest answer is to say yes, but then add that the charges have been expunged.  This is because a court order of expungement is binding only on governmental agencies and not private records companies.  It is better to be truthful to a potential employer rather than have the employer find your record on the internet.

For more information on obtaining an expungement, consult trusted Berks County criminal defense attorney David R. Eshelman.


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