Expunging juvenile crimes in Pennsylvania

People with juvenile records in Pennsylvania should explore the option of expungement, which can clear barriers to employment and housing.

A young Pennsylvania woman graduated college with the hopes of joining the Peace Corps. According to the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, her application for the program was delayed 16 months. Why? Because the young woman had a juvenile criminal record.

In Pennsylvania and around the country, juvenile records can haunt people well into adulthood. People do have the option of getting the record expunged, which can be a lengthy process but well worth the time and effort.

Why get a record expunged?

A juvenile record in Pennsylvania that has been expunged cannot be accessed through typical means, such as a background check. As the Juvenile Law Center points out, having any arrests or convictions on record can create roadblocks to young men and women who are looking for employment or housing opportunities.

People should be aware that it is possible for juvenile records to be made public. However, expunging a record will essentially make it seem as though the incident never occurred.

Eligibility for expungement

According to the Pennsylvania General Assembly, in order to be eligible for a juvenile record expungement, at least one of the following requirements must be met:

  • The court orders the expungement after considering the person's age (must be older than 18), the type of crime, any adverse consequences of not expunging the record and if the record should be retained for public safety.
  • Five years have passed since a final discharge from placement or commitment and the person has not been convicted of a crime.
  • Six months has passed since the person's discharge from supervision and there are no pending criminal charges.

It is also possible for a juvenile record to be expunged when the complaint filed against the person has not been substantiated. The law does note that expungement will not be granted to people who committed certain sex crimes or other offenses at 14 years or older.

How to get a record expunged

The record holder may file a petition to have the juvenile record expunged. If the person is unable to do so, his or her attorney is able to file the petition. That petition must include, according to the Pennsylvania Courts, the name, address, Social Security number and address of the record holder. Other necessary information includes the contact information for the authority who heard the case, the date of arrest and the specific charges that should be expunged.

People wishing to expunge juvenile records will also have to provide a reason for the exupungement and provide a copy of the record. Under law, the state attorney will either accept or object to the petition in 30 days. Within 14 days of that timeframe, a judge can grant the petition, deny it or schedule a hearing during which the record holder will be able to make a case to expunge the record.

Clearing a record can mean clearing the way for a brighter future. Anyone with questions on this matter should consult with a criminal defense attorney in Pennsylvania.

Keywords: expungement, criminal, record, conviction