What is Expungement?
An expungement is a legal order from a Judge that requires the prosecutors/district attorneys, state police, local police, and other state criminal justice agencies to ERASE something from a record.
An expungement can be for an entire arrest, or for individual charges from an arrest; and it can be for a conviction under certain limited conditions, such as being over 70 years of age and arrest-free for 10 yearsf. In Pennsylvania, arrests can no longer be seen on the public website, but they are available to police, prosecutors, and organizations using the FBI records check as part of background investigations.
For a more detailed overview of understanding criminal records and expungement eligibility in Pennsylvania, visit our Self Help page.
The Criminal Record Expungement Project (“C-REP”) represents low-income individuals through the expungement process.
PLSE identifies clients by conducting monthly community-based intake sessions in the communities most affected by criminal history record information. The intake sessions also help PLSE understand the unique challenges that individuals with criminal records encounter in Pennsylvania, which inform our strategic litigation and also provide opportunities to build relationships in the community.
Currently, all intake sessions are staffed by volunteers, primarily law students, through our partnerships with the University of Pennsylvania’s Law School and Thomas R. Kline Law School. Following intake, petitions for expungement are reviewed, filed, and argued by PLSE’s staff attorneys. To date, PLSE has filed several thousand expungement petitions in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. Over 95% of the petitions PLSE have filed have been granted.
Path to Expungement
As of May 2020, the court is closed due to the Covid-19 virus.
Before the court closed, the expungement process (from the time PLSE filed an expungement petition to the time the Judge granted the petition and issued the Order) was taking on average about four months. After that, it takes about 2 months to be sure that the criminal record has been erased. So the whole thing—from first sign up to final letter—will take less than a year.