Limitations to the Pennsylvania Expungement

Posted about 2 years ago. Applies to Pennsylvania, 1 helpful vote

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1

If the charge is expunged, do I need to report that I was charged or convicted of the offense?

Expungements of criminal charges are generally permitted under section 9122 of the Crimes Code. Section 9102 defines the term "expunge" as "to remove information so that there is no trace or indication that such information existed." Neither the definition of expunge nor Pennsylvania law or rules of criminal procedure expressly state that the expungement allows a person to treat the offense as if it never happened. Under the Pennsylvania drug code, a person charged with a drug offense may be eligible for an expungement, and expungement under that section expressly provides that "any expunged record of arrest or prosecution shall not hereafter be regarded as an arrest or prosecution." In the context of expungement under the Drug Code, the Pennsylvania legislature made it very clear that the expungement allows a person to treat the offense as if it didn't happen, but such language is not included in the expungement under the Crimes Code.

2

Can I expunge references in newspaper articles or online background search companies?

Expungements are limited to the destruction of government records. A judge is not permitted to order private entities to expunge any records that the entity has obtained that evidences criminal charges or records. This often arises in two contexts. One situation is when an online newspaper contained an article about a criminal incident that referenced the person's name and charges. A second situation is that many online background record companies purchase records from government databases, and the records may later be expunged from the government's database but will remain on the private entity's database. Some internet background search companies are willing to remove a record as a courtesy. Newspaper are often unwilling to remove records from websites.

3

If I am required to report that I was charged with a criminal offense even if the charge was later expunged, then why should I bother having the matte

A person should seek expungement of dismissed charges as soon as such a person is eligible to have them expunged. The sooner that the charges are expunged, the less likely it is that the government records will be obtained by private background search companies, so the less likely it is that the charges will appear on criminal background searches.while an expungement does not change the fact that a person was charged, some newer applications allow a person to forgo reporting if the charge was expunged or sealed by court order. Therefore, there are times that the applications expressly allow a person to forgo self-reporting because of the expungement. If a person is filling out an application and the matter has not yet been expunged, then it is simply too late.

Additional Resources

JD Law, P.C.

Pennsylvania Expungement Q & A

Pennsylvania Expungement Review

Why Expunge?

Reporting Expunged Charges

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