Self Help






What is an expungement?Who can get one?How does it happen?Get started!FAQsMore Resources
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.

In Pennsylvania, after you get an expungement the arrests can no longer be seen on the public website, but they are still available to police, prosecutors, and organizations using the FBI records check as part of background investigations.

Only arrests that did not lead to a conviction are eligible for an expungement.
If you were arrested and some or all of the charges did not result in conviction, you can probably have those charges expunged or erased from your record. It doesn’t matter if you are on probation or parole! As long you do not have an active case, that still has upcoming court dates, you can file for expungement of charges that didn’t end in conviction.

It’s important to remove those charges because people like employers, landlords, and the police can often see them on your record, even if they were dismissed or withdrawn.
To have a charge expunged, you have to file an expungement petition in the county where the arrest occurred.

Once you file, the district attorney’s office might object to your expungement petition and ask for a hearing before a judge to decide if you should be given an expungement. Sometimes they do not object, and you never have to go to court. If they do, there will be a hearing.

At the hearing, the judge will balance your right to be free from the harm that the record causes you, against the Commonwealth’s interest in keeping the record, and make a decision.

If your expungement is granted, the court will provide you or your attorney copy of the signed expungement order for your records. They will also send a copy to the state police and Philadelphia police ordering them to destroy the information. Finally, the police send letters to you or your attorney confirming that they have destroyed the information.
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What is a pardon?Pardon Vs. ExpungementWho can get a pardon?How does it happen?Get started!FAQsMore Resources
A pardon is a formal recognition by the Governor that you have been forgiven for your crime. If you are given a pardon, you can have your entire record wiped away.
Expungements can only erase crimes that you were not convicted of: not guilty verdicts, dismissals, withdrawals, and things like that. If you have convictions, a pardon is the only way to get your record erased.

The only other way to get a conviction expunged is if it’s for a summary, or ticket-level offense, or if you are over 70 years old and have not been arrested for 10 years. Other than that, a pardon is the only way to get convictions removed in Pennsylvania right now.
Anyone can apply for a pardon, but there are things you should do first to increase your chances of success. It is better to wait to apply until at least 3 years have passed since you finished your sentence. This includes sentences of probation and parole.

It helps if you can show the Board of Pardons ways that you have worked to change yourself as a person. This could include showing that you have given back to your community in some way, perhaps by volunteering or by serving in your religious community.

Most importantly, the Board of Pardons will want to see that you accept responsibility for your crimes, are remorseful, and are a different person now. There are many ways to demonstrate this.

For more information, watch videos about the pardon process in our Video Library.
There are a few steps involved in the pardon process.
First, you submit an application to the Board of Pardons. You can download it online at

Next, the Board begins review and investigation. You may be contacted by the Office of Probation and Parole for an in-home interview so they can get to know you better.

After your interview, you will be invited to Harrisburg, PA for a hearing with the Board of Pardons. Then, if your application is recommended, the Governor gives final approval. When approved, you can then file for an expungement to remove those charges from your record.
How long does the process take?
Right now, the full pardon process takes anywhere from 2-5 years from the time they receive your application until you have a hearing with the Board of Pardons. The process takes this long because you are asking the State of Pennsylvania for forgiveness of your criminal record and a full restoration of your rights, so the Board of Pardons is thorough in their review of applications.

Can PLSE help with my pardon?
Yes! If you would like to become a client with PLSE for pardon services, click here.

Do I need a lawyer for a pardon?
No, you do not need a lawyer to file a pardon or during the public hearing in Harrisburg. Lawyers are great storytellers and can help you prepare your application, and if you work with PLSE, we’ll help every step of the way.

Criminal Records

What is a criminal record?How do you get your record?How to clean up your criminal record?More Resources
A criminal record is a recorded history of each time you were arrested.
You may be able to look up your criminal record using the court’s website at For “Search Type” select “Participant Name” then fill in your name and the county where you remember being arrested.

For Philadelphia cases you can go to 1301 Filbert Street (CJC) and visit room 310. Ask for a copy of your “secure court summary”. You should expect to pay .25 per page.
If you plan to apply for a pardon, you can let the people working in the record room know that and they will help you collect the other important information.

You may also order your individual Access and Review Criminal Record Check (SP4-170) from the Pennsylvania State Police. You can do so by mailing in a request form. You must include a copy of a government issued photo ID and a certified check or money order in the amount of $20.

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Sealing can hide your criminal record from public view. It is available for Pennsylvania records that did not result in conviction as well as some misdemeanor convictions. Contact an attorney at PLSE for information if you are interested in sealing.

An expungement will delete the criminal record entirely. It is generally available to all records that did not result in a conviction.

A pardon is a process where you ask the governor to forgive your crime after you have been convicted.
If you have a juvenile record in Philadelphia then you may call the Public Defender Juvenile Expungement Hotline at 267-765-6770.

If you have a case in Delaware, Bucks, or Montgomery county then you may contact Legal Aid of Southeastern PA at


Fair Employment Opportunities Program

Philadelphia’s Fair Change Hiring ActCriminal History Records Info ActOther rightsMore Resources
Philadelphia’s Fair Change Hiring Act or “Ban the Box” An Employer cannot check your criminal background before they have made a conditional offer of employment Employers cannot consider non convictions and can only consider convictions from the last 7 years. Employers must provide you with a copy of your criminal record if they decide to use it against you.

You can report violations here.

For more information, click here.
18 Pa.C.S. § 9125 – An employer cannot consider criminal history records information (CHRI) unless it is a felony/misdemeanor conviction that relates to applicant’s suitability for employment.

The employer must notify the employee in writing if the decision not to hire is based in whole or in part on a criminal history.
FEOP may also consider, where appropriate, possible causes of action based on violations of local ordinances, state, and federal laws including but not limited to: FCRA, Title VII, ADA, ADEA, and FHA.
More resources to come!

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