What Is Misdemeanor Expungement?
Misdemeanor expungement is the process by which misdemeanor charges may be sealed, or in some cases, permanently erased from one’s criminal record. Depending on the severity of the case, as well as the individual laws of each state, most misdemeanors can be expunged. Misdemeanor expungement is commonly used in connection with juvenile records. Some states automatically expunge juvenile records once the defendant reaches 18 years of age. A misdemeanor is generally defined as a less serious crime that is punishable by a monetary fine or a sentence of less than one year in jail.
What Are Some Misdemeanors That Are Commonly Expunged?
The laws on misdemeanor expungement frequently change in nearly every state. Under the new law in Pennsylvania, those persons with 2nd and 3rd degree misdemeanors, which do not involve violence, are able to seek the expungement so long as they have not had any other convictions within the past 10 years, if the original conviction was for a 2nd degree misdemeanor and the offender wast under 25, or 7 years in the case of a 3rd degree misdemeanor. A certain type of very minor offense, referred to as a summary offense, may be expunged after the passing of 5 or more years. For those in Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition programs, involving cases such as DUI’s, though not including sex related crimes against minors, the trigger of the expungement may be automatic upon successful completion of the program.
The expanded list of offenses that are now eligible to be expunged includes substance related offenses such as DUI’s and controlled substance and drug paraphernalia possession, as well as 2nd degree misdemeanors such as larceny, identity theft and reckless endangerment. Assault and battery offenses which have been graded as mutual-combat 3rd degree misdemeanors are an exception to the violent offense ineligibility rule.
Ineligible convictions include: firearm and weapons offenses, sexual acts and cruelty to animals, intimidation and/or retaliation against witnesses, those offenses which require Megan’s Law registration and any offense which carries an incarceration sentence of 2 or more years or has multiple prior convictions with at least a 1 year sentence.
Is Misdemeanor Expungement Relief Still Limited?
The new statute is intended to benefit those who have committed minor offenses in their past and have truly been rehabilitated, having committed no new offenses and do not present a threat or danger to society. A judge may deny the expungement motion after reviewing all of the facts of the case. The prosecutor is also allowed to provide an argument to the court and to be heard if they disagree that the expungement should be granted. The modified statute should not be viewed as something which gives dangerous criminals clean slates, which they will deviously use to perpetrate new crimes on the population that is no longer able to view their criminal records.
Do I Need a Lawyer for a Misdemeanor Expungement?
Misdemeanor expungement can be a very powerful resource for those who are eligible for it. Having a clean record can lead to other benefits, such as increased chances of obtaining employment or housing. However, the laws on misdemeanor expungement vary widely. You can contact the Russo Law Firm, LLC, if you need advice on how to get your record expunged. We can work with you and advise you on misdemeanor expungement.