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Pennsylvania Official Claims Civil Complaints Were Misclassified for Years

According to a Pennsylvania state official, a judge in the state frequently misclassified civil complaints about unpaid bills as thefts. This occurred over the course of years, resulting in hundreds of people allegedly having criminal records they did not earn.

The judge in question is former District Judge Brenda Williams Nichols, who allegedly misclassified these cases between 2014 and 2017. She lost her re-election bid in 2017 and no longer serves as a district judge. The news outlets reporting on the issue could not reach her for comment.

Unknown number of people affected

A review of the district judge office in Corry, Pennsylvania (Erie County), turned up more than 800 theft convictions for offenses that are not actually considered crimes under state law. Examples of some of these “theft” convictions included failure to pay credit union fees, fines for overdue library books and bills for various repair services.

Now, legal advocates are urging the state’s court system to expunge these incorrect criminal records free of charge to all the people affected.

A criminal record can be, at the very least, a significant inconvenience for anyone who has one. It can affect prospects for employment (either new jobs or promotions), housing applications and military service, among other issues. Even more frustrating is having a criminal record when a person did nothing to deserve it.

Expunging your criminal record can open up new avenues for you to better your life and remove the stigma that such a record provides. For further guidance, consult knowledgeable Reading criminal defense lawyer David R. Eshelman.


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