Expungement FAQ

What charges are eligible for expungement?

Click on the following link: Pennsylvania Expungement to visit our practice areas expungement page to determine eligibility.

How long does it take to have my record expunged?

The answer to this question varies depending how quickly the Pennsylvania State Police return your "access and review" criminal background check, which must be attached to your petition, and how quickly the district attorney and court respond to your petition. A good rule of thumb is 2-4 months before you will receive your expungement order. Once you receive your expungement order, the process is not complete. The order must be served on the various agencies that possess your criminal record. It will usually take a few months for the various law enforcement and court agencies to comply with the order and destroy your records.

What are the steps in the expungement process?

  1. The first step is to obtain your Pennsylvania State Police criminal background check. This background check must be attached to your expungement petition. The background check usually takes several weeks to get back from the State Police.

  2. Once your criminal record is obtained, your attorney will begin to draft your expungement petition. An expungement petition simply "petitions" or "asks" the court to expunge your record. Your lawyer will take the data from the criminal background check and plug it into your expungement petition. Certain information has to be included in the petition such as your legal name, date of birth, social security number, address, case docket number, Magisterial District Court number, arrest date, arresting agency, arresting officer, description of the charges and reason for expungement. Most of this information can be obtained from your criminal background check but sometimes further investigation by your attorney is necessary.

  3. Once your expungement petition is complete, your attorney will file the expungement petition along with a proposed order, verification and certificate of service with the Clerk of Courts in the county where your arrest occurred. A copy of everything will also be delivered to the District Attorney’s Office. This procedure varies from county to county.

  4. Once the expungement petition is filed, it is now a waiting game for your attorney. Most of the time the court will sign the expungement order and mail it to your attorney’s office. It can take weeks to months for the court to get back to you with a signed order. It depends how backlogged the court is. If the court does not wish to grant the expungement, it will schedule the case for an expungement hearing. You then must appear before a Court of Common Pleas judge and argue your case. From my experience, an expungement hearing is rarely required. Typically, you or your attorney will not have to show up to court for an expungement hearing unless there is a problem with the petition.

  5. Once the expungement order is signed by a Court of Common Pleas judge, your attorney should then order certified copies of the expungement order from the Clerk of Courts. Typically, eight to twelve copies should be ordered depending on how many agencies are involved and how many copies you would like for your records. It is important to advise the attorney how many certified copies you would like for your records. Once the county expunges the record, the court's expungement order cannot be retrieved.

  6. Once certified copies of the court’s order are received by your attorney, the certified expungement orders will be mailed to the various government agencies. The government agencies that the expungement orders are sent to will vary from county to county. Typically, expungement orders should be sent to the following government agencies:

    • Clerk of Courts
    • Court Administration
    • Magisterial District Justice Office
    • Pennsylvania State Police, Central Repository
    • Arresting Police Agency
    • Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (if applicable)

    Once the expungement orders are mailed, your attorney’s job is complete. Please be advised it will take a few months for your criminal record to be completely erased. However, your expungement order may be used at any job interview as proof that you have no criminal record. Once a record is expunged it ceases to exist per Pennsylvania law.

How much will my expungement cost in lawyer’s fees?

Please contact Jason R. Antoine, Expungement Attorney for a free quote. I offer flat fees and payment plans that are affordable.

Will there be court costs involved? How much?

Yes, the court will charge you a nominal filing fee and will charge you for each certified copy of the expungement order. You will need between 8-12 certified copies depending on how many agencies were involved and how many copies you need for your records.

If I was found NOT guilty or charges were withdrawn, will my criminal record show up on criminal background checks?

Yes, just because your charges were withdrawn or you were found not guilty, your criminal record will still show up on a background check. The record will tell potential employers what you were charged with and will read “not guilty” or “withdrawn” or “nolle prosequi” next to each charge. Your criminal record will also reveal identifying information such as name, date of birth and address.

I plead guilty to a summary offense; will this show up on my criminal record?

Yes, most of the time. If you were fingerprinted by police at the time of your arrest the summary charge will show up on a Pennsylvania State Police criminal background check and an FBI background check. If you were issued a summary citation, the summary charge will not show up on a Pennsylvania State Police background check or an FBI background check, however, the charge can be accessed by anyone with a computer and internet connection. Summary charges are available to anyone via Pennsylvania's Unified Judicial System Webportal. Private background check companies contracted by employers will comb the portal, find your summary charge and report it to your prospective employer. It is important to have your summary charge removed from webportal. Additionally, anytime you are cited with a summary, the citation is on file at magisterial district court where you were prosecuted. I would highly recommend that you have any evidence of a summary offense expunged and destroyed. Contact Jason R. Antoine, Expungement Lawyer for a free phone consultation.

Pardons

If you are not eligible for an expungement you may be entitled to relief by submitting an application to the Board of Pardons. The Board of Pardons handles all pardon applications. The Board is comprised of five members. Your application for a pardon will be recommended to the Governor if you receive votes from three of the five board members. If you receive three votes then your application will be sent to the Governor for approval. This process can take approximately two to four years.

What Are the Factors Considered by the Board?

The board considers the following factors when considering your application for a pardon:

  1. How much time has elapsed since the commission of the crime or crimes for which you are seeking the pardon?
  2. Have you complied with all court requirements?
  3. Have you made positive changes to your life since the offense(s)?
  4. What is the specific need for clemency (i.e. the pardon)?
  5. What is the impact on the victim(s) of the offense(s)?

For more information visit the Board of Pardons website at: http://sites.state.pa.us/PA_Exec/BOP/