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Pennsylvania Expands their Clean Slate Law

Korey Leslie, Attorney-At-Law, LLC May 8, 2024

Gavel and open handcuffsIntroduced in December 2023, the expansion of the Clean Slate Law marks a pivotal shift in Pennsylvania's criminal justice reform.  

For individuals living with the stigma of a criminal record, the Clean Slate Law expansion could be what they've been waiting for, offering the potential to secure new opportunities in employment, housing, and education. 

The Clean Slate Law expansion is much more than a piece of legislation—it's a second chance. This comprehensive guide dives into the nuts and bolts of the expansion, covering everything from eligibility criteria to the practical steps you can take to clear your record.  

At Korey Leslie, Attorney-At-Law, LLC, based in York, Pennsylvania, and serving clients across Lancaster, Harrisburg, and Camp Hill, we are committed to keeping our community informed and empowered regarding their legal rights and the latest developments in law that might impact them.  

A Breakdown of Pennsylvania's Updated Clean Slate Law 

A significant legislative change that has recently come into effect is Pennsylvania's expansion of the Clean Slate Law, known as Clean Slate 3.0 or Act 36, which was signed into law on December 14, 2023. 

This groundbreaking expansion enables more Pennsylvania residents than ever before to have their criminal records sealed, thereby offering a fresh start to hundreds of thousands of people. The Clean Slate Law's extension represents a significant shift towards rehabilitative justice, acknowledging that individuals who have made mistakes in the past deserve the opportunity to move forward without being perpetually hindered by their criminal records. 

What the Expanded Clean Slate Law Means for Pennsylvanians

Under the new provisions of the law, Pennsylvania residents can now seek to have felony convictions sealed if 10 years have passed without any further felony or misdemeanor convictions. Furthermore, the waiting period for sealing misdemeanor convictions has been reduced to 7 years, facilitating a faster pathway to clearing one's name. 

This is a monumental shift from the original statute, broadening the scope to include certain felonies that were previously ineligible for sealing. One exception to note is how a case still can't be sealed if you owe restitution, but other fines and costs won't prevent it. 

Which Cases Can Be Sealed? 

Felonies after 10 years without a felony or misdemeanor conviction, including: 

  • Drug crimes: Violations of laws prohibiting or regulating the possession, use, distribution, or manufacture of illegal drugs. 

  • Theft crimes: Acts of stealing property belonging to another person or entity. 

  • Trespassing: Entering or remaining on someone else's property without permission. 

  • Criminal mischief: Damaging or tampering with someone else's property intentionally or recklessly. 

  • Forgery and fraud: This includes access/device fraud, issuing fraudulent checks, identity theft, and welfare fraud. 

Misdemeanors after 7 years without a felony or misdemeanor conviction, including: 

  • Drug possession: Holding illegal substances without authorization. 

  • Theft: Taking someone else's property without permission. 

  • DUI: Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. 

  • Simple Assault: Causing or attempting to cause minor injury to another person. 

  • Disorderly Conduct: Acting in a disruptive manner in public. 

  • Harassment: Disturbing or pestering someone repeatedly. 

  • Terroristic threats: Threatening to commit violence to terrorize individuals or groups. 

  • Recklessly Endangering Another Person: Acting carelessly in a way that puts someone at significant risk of injury. 

  • Resisting Arrest: Attempting to prevent law enforcement from making an arrest. 

  • Possession of an Instrument of a Crime: Holding any tool or item with intent to use it for criminal purposes. 

  • Prostitution: Engaging in sexual activity in exchange for money or goods. 

These lists aren't complete. Legal rules for sealing can be complicated to fully understand, especially in situations when people have multiple cases that could get sealed. Seek legal help to check your eligibility.  

The Impact of Sealed Records

Sealed records offer individuals significant relief and opportunities for a better future. When a record is sealed, it's no longer accessible to the public and will not appear on most background checks conducted for employment, housing, or education purposes.  

This means individuals can pursue these opportunities without the fear of being rejected due to past mistakes. However, it's important to note that sealed records can still be viewed by law enforcement agencies. 

What's Next? Taking Action.

If you only have one drug felony, it might be sealed automatically through a computerized process, eliminating the need for any action on their part. Certain misdemeanor convictions may also be sealed automatically. It's advisable to review your record to determine if your case has been sealed. For other felonies and certain misdemeanors, sealing requires filing a petition in court. 

The new legislation comes into effect for petitions starting February 12, 2024. This allows eligible individuals to begin the process of petitioning for their records to be sealed. 

Starting June 11, 2024, you will have the legal authorization to employ automated sealing in applicable situations. 

Consult a Criminal Law Attorney

A skilled criminal lawyer can provide comprehensive guidance through the entire process set forth by the expanded Clean Slate Law, from evaluating whether your convictions are eligible for sealing under the expanded law to filing the necessary petitions.  

Furthermore, should complications arise, such as the discovery of unpaid restitution that may affect eligibility, a lawyer can assist in addressing these issues, ensuring that individuals maximize their chances for a successful outcome.  

Start Cleaning Your Slate Today

If you're in York, Lancaster, Harrisburg, or Camp Hill and want to benefit from PA's Clean Slate Law, contact us at Korey Leslie, Attorney-At-Law, LLC. We're committed to your success, offering top-notch legal services to help you get a clean slate. Our team provides reliable legal advice and support, no matter the details of your criminal record details. 

From assessing your eligibility to filing a petition, we stand ready to help you clear your record and embrace a new chapter in life.