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Do you have a criminal or arrest record in Pittsburgh or western Pennsylvania that you want to expunge? Or would you like to directly request a pardon from the Governor?

A criminal record complicates life. It may affect employment opportunities, freedoms, and even personal relationships. Receiving a pardon or expunging a record can help you escape the stigma.

Speak with a Pennsylvania pardon and expungement attorney for more information. At Stanton D. Levenson, P.A. Law Offices in Pittsburgh, we can help you better understand your potential legal options in these circumstances. We handle both state and federal cases, assisting you with the process of clearing your record regardless of what court issued the conviction. Contact us today to learn more about criminal record cleaning services.

What Is a Pardon in Pennsylvania?

The Constitution of Pennsylvania grants the Governor the right to issue pardons in all criminal cases except those involving impeachment. The Governor may only grant a pardon upon the recommendation of the Board of Pardons (BOP).

According to the BOP, receiving a pardon may restore such rights as:

  • Voting
  • Serving as a juror
  • Holding public office
  • Bearing arms
  • Serving in the military
  • Owning/carrying a firearm
  • Traveling internationally

When the Governor grants a pardon, the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) receive notification that the Governor has extended executive clemency. If anyone from either of those two agencies investigated your criminal background, they would not see the offense for which you received a pardon.

In addition, someone who receives a pardon can legally tell an employer they have never been convicted of a crime. In the eyes of the law, it’s as if their crime never occurred. However, the BOP suggests informing employers of a pardon when explaining you’ve never received a conviction.

What Is Expungement in Pennsylvania?

Expungement involves sealing a person’s criminal record. Under Pennsylvania law, receiving a pardon automatically results in the expungement of a criminal record.

Someone may also be able to expunge their record in any of the following circumstances:

  • They are 70 years old and, after their final release from confinement or supervision, have not been prosecuted or arrested for a crime for at least ten years.
  • The person with the record has been dead for three years. 
  • A person with a record petitions the court for expungement of a summary offense if they have not been arrested or prosecuted for at least five years after their conviction. Only summary offenses can be expunged in these circumstances.

Expungement may also occur in the context of specific criminal proceedings in Pennsylvania. This may happen in the following circumstances:

  • A court certifies that no disposition is available and no action is pending for an arrest within 18 months of said arrest.
  • A court order requires the expungement of non-conviction data.
  • A person has received an unconditional pardon.
  • A person 21 or older who was previously convicted of an offense under PA’s purchase, consumption, possession, or transportation of liquor or malt or brewed beverages law petitions the court for an expungement. They may receive an expungement if they have satisfied the terms and conditions of their sentence.
  • A person has been thoroughly acquitted of an offense.

It’s not possible to expunge all offenses. For many convictions, it may be necessary to get a pardon to expunge a record. Speak with a Pennsylvania pardon and expungement attorney for more information about your case.

What Is the Pardon Process in Pennsylvania?

According to the BOP, the process of receiving a pardon from the Governor involves these steps:

  • Application – Start by completing an application and sending it to the BOP. A legal defense attorney can help you complete the application.
  • Investigation – Members of the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole will investigate your crime on behalf of the BOP. The investigation typically includes an in-home interview. You will need to make yourself available to the agents at the requested time. For an incarcerated individual, the Department of Corrections conducts an investigation.
  • Opinion sharing – The District Attorney and President Judge of the county in which the relevant offenses occurred will have an opportunity to share their opinions on the merits of a pardon application.
  • Review – The BOP will receive a report when the investigating agents complete their process. You may proceed to the next step in the process if at least two out of five BOP members approve in most cases. Violent crimes and those committed in possession of a firearm require three BOP members’ approval.
  • Hearing – During a hearing, you will have 15 minutes to deliver a presentation explaining why you deserve a pardon. Victims and other relevant parties may also deliver presentations.
  • Vote – The BOP members meet in an executive session to discuss how they will vote. Once they’ve reached a determination, the BOP will forward your application to the Governor if a majority of BOP members vote in your favor. The Governor may then determine whether to grant a pardon.

A denial from the BOP doesn’t always mean you can’t receive a pardon in Pennsylvania. You may file for a reconsideration.

You can’t file for reconsideration merely because you disagree with the BOP’s decision. You must show you have a “compelling reason” (such as a change in life circumstances) to request a reconsideration. A Pennsylvania pardon and expungement attorney can explain whether you may have grounds to make such a request.

What Is the Pennsylvania Criminal Expungement Process?

A pardon may be necessary to remove a misdemeanor or felony from a record in Pennsylvania. However, for a basic expungement (such as for a non-conviction), the Pennsylvania State Police offer the following instructions: 

  • Complete form SP 4-170
  • Mail the form to the address listed for the Central Repository
  • Include a certified check or money order payable to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the amount of $20.00, a copy of your government-issued photo ID, and a legal affidavit or letter of recommendation (if necessary in your case)

The Central Repository will send you your full arrest record. You may then contact the Clerk of the Courts in the county where the police arrested you for the offense in question. Their office will provide more information about the specific process of petitioning for an expungement in that county.

If the court grants an expungement, a Commonwealth Court judge will sign the order. The Clerk of Courts will then send the signed expungement court order to the Pennsylvania State Police. They will expunge the record.

Contact a Pennsylvania Pardon and Expungement Attorney Today

A criminal record expungement lawyer may help in various ways if you wish to seal or destroy a criminal record in Pennsylvania. Examples include:

  • Reviewing your case to determine whether you’re eligible for a pardon or expungement
  • Gathering evidence to show why you’re eligible for a pardon or expungement
  • Helping you complete and submit paperwork
  • Helping you prepare for the interview portion of an investigation
  • Assisting you during presentations to the BOP
  • Assisting with your reconsideration

At Stanton D. Levenson, P.A. Law Offices, we know a criminal record can influence the lives of Pennsylvania residents and their day-to-day freedoms in many ways. We offer criminal record-clearing services to help you move forward. Learn more by contacting us online or calling us today to discuss your case and how our legal representation can benefit you.