Legally cleaning up your criminal record

With the age of the internet and easy access to criminal records, even your future in-laws can find out about your past criminal conviction. But there is hope.

Expungement Definitions and Types

Many tools are available to an experienced criminal defense attorney in attacking your criminal record. If the Motion to Vacate Judgement is successful and the conviction is set aside, the prosecutor still has the option of recharging the case. But if the case is old and not serious this probably will not happen.

If the crime can be punished by either a county jail sentence or a prison sentence it is known in criminal court as a Wobbler. That means it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. If it is charged as a felony and the client was sentenced to the county jail it can be reduced to a misdemeanor. Charges such as disturbing the peace or driving without a license can be reduced to infractions.

Indianapolis Expungement and Record Sealing Attorneys

Infractions are the least serious criminal offense with the maximum punishment being a fine. Here, if you pled guilty and successfully completed probation a judge will allow you to withdraw the guilty plea and then dismiss the charge. The Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts has blank forms available. To request a pardon for state convictions, follow the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons process.


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For federal criminal convictions, follow the U. Department of Justice process. A pardon is an official act of mercy taken by the Governor of Pennsylvania upon the recommendation of the PA Board of Pardons. A pardon completely frees an individual from the control of the state, exempting an individual from further punishment and relieving an individual from all the legal disabilities resulting from a conviction.

Examples of such legal disabilities include, but are not limited to, the right to purchase or carry a firearm, right to hold public office, right to be a juror, the right to vote, and the opportunity to obtain certain employment.


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  • Expungements, Sealing, Limited Access Orders, & Pardons;
  • Once a charge is eligible for expungement, the defendant still has to petition the court to request this remedy. Consideration of a pardon application takes several years. If you have a conviction that is eligible for expungement, the process is complete in less than one year. The court may still have the ability to deny an expungement request, but expungements are granted more readily than pardons.

    No, a pardon does not expunge the conviction from your criminal record.

    Clean Your Record - criminal_selfhelp

    If you are granted a pardon, however, you would become eligible to have your conviction records to be expunged. Other summary offense: A person is eligible to have a conviction record expunged after 5 years, so long as they have been free from arrest or prosecution during that time. Misdemeanors: Some ungraded, second and third degree misdemeanors are eligible for a limited access order if the individual is free from conviction for 10 years. Others are not. Community Legal Services of Philadelphia has a helpful chart on eligibility which includes those that will become eligible in June under the Clean Slate bill.

    A Governor's pardon is the only remaining option if a misdemeanor conviction is not eligible for sealing or expungement. Felony or first degree misdemeanor: Felonies and first degree misdemeanors are not eligible for limited access orders. Certain misdemeanors are eligible for expungement once an individual has been dead for three years or after has 70 years old and has been free from arrest or prosecution for 10 years. Yes, you can say that you were never convicted of a crime.

    In Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Sutley , A. Despite this language, it is recommended that, if you deny being convicted after receiving a pardon, you should explain that you were not convicted as a result of the pardon. Generally, yes. A provision in the Clean Slate law provides that, if information regarding criminal history is requested, a person whose record has been expunged or sealed through the Clean Slate law may respond as if the offense did not occur.

    However, there are exceptions to this law, such as if the information is requested by a criminal justice agency or disclosure is required by federal law, then you must disclose the record.

    Expungement Service Offered

    You must be honest when completing an application but that does not mean you must provide more information when the employer does not specifically ask for that information. Thus, it is important to know that certain terms have certain meanings, and it is important to read the question that is asked very carefully and only answer the question that is asked. For instance, if you successfully completed ARD, YOP, or a similar diversionary program for an offense, you were never convicted of that offense.

    Fresh start: How to wipe your criminal record clean

    Instead, the charge would have been legally dismissed. If the question then only asks about convictions, you can answer honestly that you were never convicted.

    Expungement and Criminal Records: State-Specific Information

    For another example, an employer may ask only about felony convictions. If you were convicted of a misdemeanor and not a felony, then you can answer that you were never convicted of a felony and need not disclose the misdemeanor conviction.


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    • No legal advice is provided on this website. Every case is different.