Having a criminal conviction on your record can have consequences that impact you for the rest of your life. Criminal background checks are a common part of seeking employment, and those with a conviction may also struggle to find a place to live as many landlords and tenants don’t want to rent to someone who has a previous record of run-ins with the law. Thankfully, there’s a way to scrub your record clean that doesn’t involve a Presidential pardon: expungement.
Expungement is a motion that allows your criminal conviction to be erased from the public record, making it as though it never happened. Expunged records are essentially destroyed: they don’t count towards repeat offender status and they don’t show up on background checks.
However, only a select few types of offenses may be expunged. In the past, the number of offenses that qualified was extremely low. After all, removing a criminal offense from the record is particularly powerful, and it’s usually in the public’s best interests to make sure certain offenses can’t be removed. However, thanks to new legislation, the number of offenses that can be expunged under Pennsylvania law has increased significantly. This is great news for those who have been accused of low-level drug offenses.
On this blog, we’ll go over what drug offenses can be expunged under the new laws and help you determine whether or not this is an option you can pursue.
What Offenses Are Eligible?
In the past, expungement was only available to an extremely small number of people for a very limited number of offenses. Thanks to this new legislation, people who have been found guilty of second or third degree non-violent misdemeanors can seek expungement provided they meet one of the following requirements:
- They were older than 25 and convicted of a second degree misdemeanor and do not have any other convictions within the past ten years
- They were older than 25 and convicted of a third degree misdemeanor and do not have any other convictions within the past seven years.
- They were convicted of a summary offense and do not have any additional convictions within the last five years.
Drug Offenses Eligible for Expungement
If you’re keeping track, that’s great news for those who have been found guilty of a number of non-violent misdemeanor-level drug offenses. Things like possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, or distributing 30 grams of marijuana or less for no remuneration are all eligible for expungement. You may also be able to have a drug-related DUI offense expunged, which may even allow you to lower the cost of your car insurance, saving you hundreds or maybe even thousands of dollars per year!
What’s Still Ineligible?
While the law opened up a number of offenses for expungement eligibility, all felony offenses are still ineligible to be expunged in Pennsylvania. Likewise, misdemeanors that involve violence, such as assault, or sex offenses that require sex offender registration are all still ineligible for expungement. Likewise, even minor offenses which involve the use of a firearm or deadly weapon are also ineligible for expungement, and will stay on your criminal record.
If you want to find out whether or not you can pursue expungement under the new laws in Pennsylvania, contact the Scranton criminal defense attorney from the Law Offices of William D. Thompson at (570) 666-1068 to request a case evaluation!