Process for Expunging Adult Criminal Records in Pennsylvania
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UPDATED: Jul 15, 2021
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When a criminal record in Pennsylvania is expunged, all of the information that relates to the offense in question becomes unavailable for public viewing. The expunged information includes: any arrest information, descriptions used to identify you, any notes, indictments, dispositions or other information related to the criminal charges. Certain information is not expunged: medical and psychological records, national security and intelligence information (such as that kept by the CIA). In addition, original entries prepared by the court and related to the arrest are not eligible for expungement: no court record or index that was created and filed by a Pennsylvania Commonwealth court can be expunged. When a judge orders dismissal of charges against you, an expungement of the arrest record is ordered along with it.
To have an adult criminal record expunged, you must petition the court with jurisdiction over your original case. Usually this is the court where you were first convicted. After properly petitioning the court, the court must send a certified order to any agencies holding copies of your record information and direct their expungement. The expungement itself occurs once the certification from the court is received and the repository director authorizes it.
In certain instances, no petition may be required. Pennsylvania law has created an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program (ARD program) that is used in certain situations, such as for drunken driving convictions, to allow for faster resolution of the case. Provided the ARD program is eligible for expungement, upon successfully completion of the program, your record will automatically be expunged. There are, however, certain ARD programs which are not eligible for expungement. For example, if the offense you were convicted of included the rape of a minor under age 18, no expungement is available, even if you went through an ARD program.
If the Commonwealth’s attorney objects to the “automatic” expungement, a copy of the objection must be served on you as well as the judge, within 30 days after serving a motion to dismiss under Rule 319. The judge will allow you an opportunity to be heard if such objections are filed.
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