Understanding Clean Slate and Expungements

Understanding Clean Slate and Expungements

On June 28, 2019, a law called “Clean Slate” went into effect across Pennsylvania. This law does not actually “clean,” or erase, anything. Over the next year, it will “seal” cases automatically and expand what is eligible for “sealing” by a court order. In a nutshell, “sealing” means it will hide eligible case information from public view, including the UJS Portal. This law expands on an older version of the law, and the great part about the automatic sealing is that you will not need to hire a lawyer or pay for the service.

Clean Slate does not change what is seen by the police, prosecutors, or organizations using the FBI database for background checks (such as schools, hospitals, and casinos). Clean Slate is also very complicated; it does not apply in many cases. If you would like to know if you are eligible, we strongly recommend that you request a review of your case here from Community Legal Services.

You can learn more about the new law here.

To have something really cleared off your record permanently, and not just hidden, you need to get an expungement. If you have been convicted of a crime – basically, any misdemeanor or felony ending with a guilty verdict or guilty plea – then you will need a pardon from the Governor to remove it from your record. Clean Slate does not change any of these processes.

If you are unsure whether you are eligible for an expungement of your record, come to an expungement clinic where a volunteer will
review your record with you one-on-one.

Generally speaking, the following situations are eligible for automatic sealing:

  • criminal charges that were dropped, dismissed, or withdrawn and did not end in a conviction (guilty verdict or guilty plea):
  • convictions for all summary offenses and some 2nd and 3rd degree misdemeanors (M2, M3):
    • only if you have not been arrests or convicted within the past 10 years; and
    • only if you have paid off all fines and fees on the relating conviction.

As you can see, Clean Slate is complicated and also has many other exceptions. If you want to know whether you are eligible, you should request a review for your sealing eligibility.

For expungements, the following situations are eligible:
  • If you have any charges ending in a nonconviction (e.g., dismissed, withdrawn, nolle prossed), regardless of whether they were a sumamry offense, misdemeanor, or felony;
  • If you completed an ARD or other diversionary program;
  • If you have a summary offense plus 5 years without any arrests or convictions; or
  • If you are over 70 years old plus 10 years without any arrests or convictions.