Why do charges appear on a background search after I completed ARD?
Expungement Is NOT Automatic
Successful completion of ARD gives a person the ABILITY to have charges dismissed and expunged. While some county court systems do dismiss and expunge a person’s record upon completion of ARD, MOST do not. If the court court does not take care of the expungement automatically, then the person must file the appropriate dismissal and expungement paperwork with the Clerk of Courts. If the person does not file the required paperwork, the charges remain pending and can appear on criminal background searches. It is only through the expungement process that the charge or case information is removed from the government databases.
People that represent themselves often fail to complete this final step to expunge records. Many people also hire jack-of-all trades attorneys, meaning attorneys that only handle DUI and criminal defense cases part time, for ARD cases, and such attorneys may not know that paperwork must be filed to complete the expungement process. Regrettably, the attorney’s lack of knowledge and experience hurts the client. Clients often learn the hard way that the expungement was not completed when a background search is run and the charges appear on the records. At that point, it is often too late to fix the problem.
Most experience DUI defense attorneys take care of the required dismissal and expungement paperwork for their clients that successfully complete ARD. Such attorneys provide copies of the documentation to the clients to show that the required steps are being taken to finalize the expungement. Clients should request copies to ensure that the process is being completed. While a client should trust the attorney, the client should also be provided with copies of the court filings so that trust is not an issue. If the client is provided with a copy of the court filing, the filling will have a time-stamp from the Clerk of Courts that clearly shows the date and time of the filing, then the client knows that it was done. The client should also be provided with updates from attorney regarding the completion of the expungement process as the attorney receives updates from the court.
If a person failed to file the dismissal and expungement paperwork immediately after ARD completion, the good news is that the problem can be fixed. The expungement process can be undertaken years after ARD completion. The dismissal and expungement paperwork must be filed in the county in which the case was filed. If you need an expungement for an ARD case, contact an experienced Pennsylvania expungement lawyer from JD Law at (814) 954-7622 or by email.