Slate Law

Pennsylvania Legislature May Expand Clean Slate Law

The Pennsylvania legislature’s newly proposed bill, HB 1826, looks to expand the state’s existing clean slate law. This new law would allow drug and certain property-related felony convictions to automatically seal after ten years. However, this option is available as long as the individual accrued no further convictions within that time. Furthermore, this law will reduce waiting periods before sealing for qualifying offenses.

Pennsylvania passed the Clean Slate Law in 2018, which made it the first state to pass such legislation. Through this law, those convicted of various crimes may have their records sealed after ten years. However, they must not have additional convictions and must have completed all court-ordered restitution. In addition, they must fulfill court-ordered obligations, including fees and fines. Qualifying records included those convicted of many first-degree misdemeanors, second and third-degree misdemeanors, summary offenses, misdemeanors with penalties of two years or less in prison, and those charged with a crime but not convicted.

In 2020, a revision to the law removed the requirement to complete all court-ordered obligations before sealing the records. The exception is the restitution, which still requires full payment. In addition, those who received pardons from the governor or a full acquittal of charges qualified for automatic expungement. Finally, if HB 1826 passes, the waiting period for sealing these records will decrease.

For those convicted of a misdemeanor with a sentence of two or fewer years or a second or third-degree misdemeanor, the waiting period would be seven years from the conviction. However, for summary convictions, the waiting time would be five years from the entry of judgment.

This bill has significant support from the state legislature. Furthermore, the governor of Pennsylvania recently decided to pardon thousands of residents with non-violent marijuana convictions. Notably, changes included not waiving any restitution that an individual owes for a conviction and expunging the records of those who receive a non-guilty verdict.

Clean slate laws have become more popular. For example, seven states have passed clean slate laws since Pennsylvania passed the country’s first Clean Slate Law. Clean Slate Laws help give individuals with criminal records better employment opportunities and housing options.

Over a million workers in Pennsylvania have benefited from its clean slate policy since its enactment. If you have a criminal record, you could also benefit from this bill. It would be worthwhile for anyone that may benefit from this bill to keep an eye on whether it passes because it could open up many new opportunities.

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