Our law firm is a proud sponsor of the Rob Maadi Show with Anthony SanFilippo on 610 Sports Radio ESPN. I appear every week during the NFL season to discuss a topic in the criminal defense world. On my most recent appearance on October 4, 2016, I explained how to clean up your old criminal record in Pennsylvania. Here is the transcript from the live radio show broadcasted from 39th & North Taproom & Grille in Glenolden in Delaware County, Pennsylvania.
Being charged with a crime is bad enough but a criminal conviction is even worse! A conviction can often follow a person for the rest of their life and can be a source of embarrassment.
More importantly, however, is what a criminal conviction can do to future job prospects and other opportunities like coaching your kid’s baseball or football team or volunteering at a school function. Even an arrest that doesn’t result in a conviction can still cause a problem for someone if it isn’t addressed with the help a criminal defense lawyer. Tonight, as always, we have Alfonso Gambone with us to talk about what you can do about a criminal record in Pennsylvania. Alfonso is a former military prosecutor, the author of 3 books on criminal defense, and a criminal defense lawyer in the city and its surrounding suburbs.
Anthony SanFilippo – Question: Alfonso, do criminal records ever just go away, like traffic violation points after a couple of years?
Alfonso Gambone – Answer: No, criminal records are maintained in an electronic and even a paper format forever. They aren’t erased or destroyed unless a court orders that it be done. People sometimes call me and say “well that happened 30 years ago, I was a kid” or “it was nothing and they probably buried it some file cabinet at the police station. It’s really a bad idea to have this belief. Not only do police and law enforcement maintain the record, they often put it into other systems and criminal databases in Pennsylvania and beyond so its there and will follow you even if you move to a place like North Dakota.
Even if you were convicted, there still is a record from the arrest. I meet with a lot of clients who tell me they have no criminal record and while they don’t have a conviction, they have an arrest for something that occurred 30 years ago in some cases. This usually comes from cases where charges were thrown out because of lack of evidence, the prosecution was withdrawn or there was even a not guilty. Remember even if your found not guilty, you were still arrested. You still need to get it expunged!
Anthony SanFilippo – Question: What type of criminal cases or charges can be expunged in Pennsylvania?
Alfonso Gambone – Answer: Any criminal charge(s) which doesn’t result in a conviction are eligible for an expungement. Remember that many people don’t realize that even if you’re not convicted you still have a criminal record. They don’t just throw out those records!
An expugement order from a Common Pleas Court judge in Pennsylvania, requires that all law enforcement agencies to destroy those records, this would include things like mug shots, finger prints, police reports and court records. Pretty much anything having to do with criminal charges and the case. If you’re convicted, meaning found guilty of anything other than a summary offense, you can’t have your record expunged. It doesn’t matter if you have a felony or a misdemeanor conviction, you aren’t eligible. A felony conviction is something such as Drug Possession with Intent to Deliver, illegal possession of a gun or firearm and a misdemeanor is something like a simple assault, a simple drug possession, DUI.
Anthony SanFilippo – Question: If you have a criminal conviction, is there anything that you can do to clean up your record.
Alfonso Gambone – Answer: Up until very recently no, but back in February of this year, Gov. Wolf signed a new law that takes effect next month. It allows previously convicted individuals an opportunity to clean up their criminal record. It doesn’t apply to all criminal convictions but it covers a lot of misdemeanor offense in Pennsylvania. The new law doesn’t expunge criminal records, but it does prevent the dissemination of criminal information about a person’s criminal record to anyone other than law enforcement and certain agencies. This would allow convicted persons opportunities that were otherwise out of their reach because of a minor criminal record.
One of the driving forces behind this law was the economy; people were getting turned down for job for DUI or drug possession charge that happened 15 years ago. Any person who is convicted of a second degree, third degree misdemeanor or an ungraded misdemeanor and who has been free of arrest for 10 or more years is eligible. Keep in mind that the 10 year period doesn’t start until the person has completed probation, parole, or other supervision –this would include the payment of any fines. The most common offenses that fall under the new law include first offense DUIs, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, certain thefts, and trespassing offense and even some firearm offenses.
Anthony SanFilippo – Question: If someone wants to have their criminal arrest record expunged or a criminal conviction sealed under this new law, can they just go the court and speak to someone there?
Alfonso Gambone – Answer: No, if you want your record expunged or sealed, you need to file a petition with the Court of Common Pleas in the county where you were convicted. This is a written document that must include specific information or it’ll be rejected. It’s not something that you can do over the phone. After that petition, the DA’s Office in that county has 30 days to consent or object to it. If there’s an objection, the judge will schedule a hearing, otherwise the order will be granted and submitted to the appropriate law enforcement agencies.
Anthony SanFilippo – Question: Alfonso, do you have any final words of advice for our listeners
Alfonso Gambone – Answer: Don’t ignore a criminal record, speak to a criminal defense lawyer and find out about your options. It’s not going to go away by itself. Don’t wait until someone else like your employer or worse your child’s teacher tells you that you have an old arrest record. Don’t let criminal record stand in the way of achieving goals and accomplishments. Our law firm provides a lot of free information about criminal defense strategies on our website gambonelaw.com. You can download all of my free books and my monthly newsletter. You can call our office at 215-755-9000 for more information about criminal defense issues