Can I have a felony or misdemeanor conviction or guilty plea expunged from my criminal record?

Central Pennsylvania Expungement Attorney

For practical purposes, the answer is no. The expungement law in Pennsylvania is set forth in section 9122 of the Crimes Code and generally allows the expungement of non-convictions. There are two exceptions to the general rule. The first exception is that if a person is 70 years old and has been free of arrest and prosecution for ten years following final release from confinement or court supervision. The second exception is if the person has been dead for three years. Obviously, the exceptions the general rule that misdemeanor and felony convictions cannot be expunged are not very helpful or useful to most people. The Pennsylvania legislature did amend section 9122 relatively recently to allow for the expungement of summary offenses, but the amendment did not create exceptions for the expungement of either misdemeanor or felony convictions.

A person with a misdemeanor or felony conviction must first seek a pardon of the conviction from the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons to be eligible for expungement. If a person is able to receive a pardon, then the conviction is set aside, and a person's legal rights are returned. For example, a felony conviction prohibits a person from possessing a firearm. If a person receives a pardon, then the lifetime firearm prohibition is removed. Also, if a person receives a pardon, then the charges are eligible for expungement. A petition to expunge must be filed with the court, and the person must convince the judge to grant the expungement and thereby issue an expungement order.

Dismissed Charges are Eligible for Expungement

While dismissed misdemeanor and felony charges are eligible for expungement, the expungement is a legal process that requires the drafting and filing of an expungement petition. Pennsylvania law requires that certain information and background search reports are included in or attached to the expungement petition. If the required information is not included, the expungement petition may be dismissed, or the expungement may not be completed properly. For example, such an expungement is discretionary with the judge.