Clean Slate has sealed more than 40 million cases in the commonwealth, providing a more efficient form of clemency bringing relief by utilizing technology to determine what records meet the criterion for sealing and clearing. No fees or additional filing of dockets are required. But now it’s time to expand.
House Bill 689 expands the Clean Slate Law.
HB 689 expands clean slate by making some property-related and drug felonies eligible for sealing, while shortening eligibility waiting periods. Specifically, HB 689 would:
- Expand sealing eligibility for less serious drug felonies after 10 years without a misdemeanor or felony conviction.
- Expand sealing eligibility for some property-related felony offenses, like theft and forgery, if they are graded in the third degree, restitution to the victim has been paid, and a judge grants a sealing petition.
- Reduce the waiting period for sealing a misdemeanor offense from 10 years to 7 years conviction-free.
- Reduce the waiting period for sealing a summary offense to 5 years.
Auto Expungement of a Full Pardon
- Anyone who received a full pardon from the Governor will immediately have their record expunged.
- Previously Pennsylvanians would have to approach the courts to file individual petitions of expungement for each docket, accruing hundreds or even thousands of dollars in legal fees and processing.
- This is a financial obstacle that punished poverty and was inconsistent with the spirit of redemption.
September 19, 2023 - House Bill 689 moved out of Judiciary Committee
June 5, 2023 - House Bill 689 passes with strong bipartisan support!
About the Clean Slate Law
The Clean Slate Law gives many people a second chance at life, after being unjustly burdened after paying their debt to society. Criminal histories can be cleared from your record of specific types of offenses through two expungement and/or limited access orders, allowing people access to employment, housing and an end to the stigma associated with past mistakes.
The offenses that can be removed from a person’s record or sealed from public site must be over 10 years old, without another conviction happening since, and include simple assault charges, other non-violent misdemeanors, and summary offenses.
GET HELP WITH YOUR RECORD
Find your record, learn how to clear your record, understand your rights and get legal help.
What is Clean Slate?
Clean Slate is a new Pennsylvania law that expands criminal record sealing to include more types of offenses, including some first-degree misdemeanors, which can be sealed by filing petitions.
Clean Slate will also create an automated computer process to seal arrests that did not result in convictions within 60 days, summary convictions after 10 years, and some second and third-degree misdemeanor convictions if there are no subsequent misdemeanor or felony convictions for a period of 10 years after the time of conviction.
What is “sealing”?
Once your record is sealed under Clean Slate, it can generally only be viewed by the following:
- Law enforcement entities (e.g. police, District Attorneys, courts, etc.)
- Employers who are required to consider records under federal law
- Employers who utilize FBI background checks
The vast majority of employers, landlords, schools, and the general public will NOT have access to sealed records.
But, unlike expunged records, sealed records are not destroyed.
What convictions are newly eligible to be sealed?
Some first-degree misdemeanors are now eligible for sealing. Violent and sexual offenses are usually excluded. If you have more than one first-degree misdemeanor or have an additional felony, you will have to wait longer than 10 years.
Second-degree simple assault can now be sealed after 10 years.
Other second- and third-degree misdemeanors already can be sealed after 10 years. If you have four or more convictions that are graded as a second-degree misdemeanors or higher, you will have to wait longer than 10 years.
The eligibility rules are complicated. You should consult a lawyer if you want to know whether your cases can be sealed.
What do I need to do to be eligible?
If you have cases that are eligible to be sealed under Clean Slate, the most important thing you can do is make sure you have paid any court fines and costs you owe. Fines and costs are usually only owed on cases where you were convicted (pled guilty or were found guilty) or were given a diversionary program (like ARD).
To find out what you owe, contact the court in the county where you had your case. Ask how much of your debt is supervision fees. You can also ask for a record of your payments.
If your cases are from Philadelphia, you can go to the Basement of the Criminal Justice Center (1301 Filbert St.) to find out what you owe, get on a payment plan, or make payments. You might be able to get your supervision fees waived if you cannot pay and if you file a petition with the court.
How can I file a petition for my record to be sealed?
Cases eligible to be sealed under Clean Slate can be filed with the local court where your case was heard. Each court has different processes to file petitions so you should contact your local court or legal aid program for more information (see below). There may be fees to file your petition(s), but you may be able to have them waived if you are low-income or represented by a legal aid program.
Do I need to disclose my sealed or expunged record(s)?
Generally, no. Records sealed under Clean Slate are not considered convictions. If information regarding criminal history is requested, a person whose record has been sealed by Clean Slate may respond as if the offense did not occur.
Can I still expunge my record?
Yes. If your record is eligible to be expunged under current Pennsylvania law, you can continue to file for expungement even after Clean Slate goes into effect.
Note that you can generally seek expungement for cases in which you were not convicted (e.g. charges were dismissed, withdrawn, nolle prossed, or you were found “not guilty”), diversion cases like ARD where you have completed your sentence, and summary convictions after five years without arrest.
Where can I go for help?
My office is is always here to provide assistance. Contact Desmond McKinson at email@example.com or 215.227.6161 for help with the Clean Slate Law.
You may also utilize Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity at 267.519.5323 to learn how to navigate the new Clean Slate Law. Also, the Pennsylvania Bar Association and Community Legal Services, Inc. will provide volunteer lawyers to screen your Pennsylvania record for free and tell you whether and how you can clear it. Also, many legal aid programs around the state of Pennsylvania help people with record expungement or sealing. To find your local legal aid program, see: http://www.palegalaid.net/resources/clients.
Act 56 of 2018
Limited Access Petitions & Clean Slate Limited Access
What is a limited access petition?
A limited access petition is a court order prohibiting disclosure of your criminal record in most cases. You must file the court petition asking to block disclosure of your record. The petition does not remove your criminal record entirely. If you are granted a limited access petition, your criminal record can only be released to:
- A criminal justice agency.
- A state licensing agency for use only if your criminal record is relevant to the issuance of a professional or occupational license.
- The PA Department of Human Services and county children and youth agencies where it is relevant to their duties related to child protective services.
Who is eligible?
You are eligible for a limited access petition if you meet all of the following criteria:
- You were convicted of a misdemeanor or an ungraded offense carrying a maximum penalty of no more than five years in prison.The following misdemeanors of the first degree are ineligible:
- An offense involving danger to a person.
- Offenses against the family.
- Offenses involving firearms or other dangerous articles.
- Sexual offenses that require registration as a sex offender.
- Conspiracy, attempt or solicitation to commit any of these offenses.
- You have been free from conviction for 10 years of any offense punishable by a year or more in prison.
- You have paid all court-ordered financial obligations associated with your sentence.
Who is not eligible?
Limited access petitions are not available for felonies. You are not eligible for a limited access petition if:
- You have ever been convicted of murder, a felony of the first degree or any felony punishable by 20 years or more in prison.
- You have been convicted within the last 20 years of:
- A felony or an offense punishable by imprisonment of seven or more years involving danger to a person, firearms, offenses against the family or sexual offenses require registration; or
- Four or more offenses punishable by imprisonment of two years or more.
- You have been convicted within the last 15 years of:
- Indecent exposure, sexual intercourse with an animal, failure to register as a sex offender, weapons, abuse of a corpse or paramilitary training; or
- Two or more offenses punishable by more than two years in prison.
What is the process to get a limited access petition?
- The limited access petitions can be filed at the county courthouse with the clerk of courts in the county where your conviction occurred beginning December 26, 2018.
- Within 10 days of receiving the petition, the court must notify the district attorney, who has 30 days from that point to file an objection to the petition.If the district attorney objects, a hearing will be held to determine if the petition will be granted.
- If the district attorney does not object, the petition will be granted without a hearing.
- Once the petition is granted, all the criminal justice agencies that have your criminal records on file will be notified that access to your records has been limited.
What does it cost?
There is a state fee of $132, in addition to a possible county fee (depending on the county), payable to the county clerk of courts when filing a limited access petition.
What does the new Clean Slate limited access law do?
Act 56 of 2018, known as the Clean Slate law, created a second way of limiting access to some criminal records without filing a court petition. Under the new law, access to the records is automatically blocked if you meet all of the following criteria:
- You were convicted of a misdemeanor of the third degree, a misdemeanor of the second degree, or an ungraded offense which carries a maximum penalty of no more than two years;
- You have been free from conviction for 10 years for any offense punishable by one year or more in prison; and
- You have paid all court-ordered financial obligations associated with your sentence.
Additionally, Clean Slate limited access is automatically granted if:
- You were charged with an offense, but not convicted; or
- Ten years have elapsed since a summary conviction and all court-ordered obligations of the sentence have been fulfilled.
Who is not eligible under for Clean Slate limited access?
Clean Slate limited access is not available for:
- Offenses involving danger to a person.
- Offenses against the family.
- Offenses involving firearms and other dangerous articles.
- Sexual offenses and sex offender registration.
- Cruelty to animals.
- Corruption of minors.
You are not eligible for Clean Slate limited access if you have ever been convicted of any of the following:
- A felony.
- Two or more offenses punishable by imprisonment of more than two years (generally first-degree misdemeanors and more serious offenses).
- Four or more offenses that each carry a maximum penalty of at least one year.
- Indecent exposure.
- Sexual intercourse with an animal.
- Failure to comply with sexual registration requirements.
- Weapons or implements for escape.
- Abuse of a corpse.
- Paramilitary training.
- A qualifying offense committed at the same time as a separate offense that is punishable by five or more years in prison.
How does the new law impact juvenile records?
Act 56 of 2018 prohibits a child’s court records and files from being disclosed to the public unless:
- The child was 14 or older and was adjudicated delinquent for an offense – or conspiring or attempting to commit an offense – that would have constituted a serious violent offense as an adult.
- A delinquency petition has been filed alleging the child committed a violent offense and the child has previously been adjudicated delinquent for a serious violent offense.
When will my records be closed under Clean Slate limited access?
Act 56 of 2018 takes effect for newly eligible offenses on June 28, 2019. Court administrators must send all eligible records of charges and convictions to the Pennsylvania State Police within 30 days of completion of the sentence and payment of court-ordered obligations.
Court personnel and the Pennsylvania State Police have until June 28, 2020, to identify and complete the processing of previous records eligible for Clean Slate limited access.
What if my criminal record is denied for Clean Slate limited access?
You can file a limited access petition at the county courthouse.