What Is the Expungement Process in Pennsylvania?

Fighting For Important Causes In State And Federal Courts

In the state of Pennsylvania, all cases filed with a court whether summary or criminal, are posted online for the public to view and can be reported by consumer reporting agencies. Even if a case does not result in a conviction, anyone from the public including future employers, government agencies, and banks can obtain information about your criminal record. This is because, under Pennsylvania law, companies considering hiring a person can conduct a background check.

However, there is one way to prevent this: through the process of expungement. In this post, Penn State College, PA criminal record expungement lawyer Andrew Shubin explains the process of getting a crime expunged from a criminal record and exceptions to expungement.

What Is Expungement?

In essence, an expungement is a legal order that removes a record stain from the public eye and prevents access to law-enforcement agencies. Many steps are required in the expungement process, however, if you qualify, it can make a significant difference in your life and your future endeavors.

Who Is Eligible for Expungement in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, any information pertaining to any offense which resulted in a non-conviction, is eligible for expungement. For example, if you are found “not-guilty” of a charge or during your case, information was dismissed or withdrawn or “nolle prossed” (not prosecuted), then this information becomes automatically eligible for expungement. Offenses can also be expunged if one pleads guilty or is found guilty of a summary offense, if five years pass after the case is closed completely, and if the person remains arrest and prosecution-free. However, unless an exception is identified, someone who pleads or is found guilty of a criminal charge, is not eligible for expungement. If someone has more than one charge or offense on their record, each offense will require careful analysis to determine whether it can be expunged from the record.

Exceptions to Expungement

One exception to expungement is if a person is arrested in Pennsylvania and the criminal charges do not go forward. Under the Pennsylvania Criminal History Record Information Act, a person’s criminal record must be expunged if:

“No disposition has been received or, upon request for criminal history record information, no disposition has been recorded in the repository within 18 months after the date of the arrest and the court of proper jurisdiction certified to the director of the repository that no disposition is available and no action is pending.  Expungement may not occur until the certification from the court is received and the director of the repository authorizes such expungement.”

A second exception to expungement is if a person who is a college student and/or young adult was cited or arrested for underage drinking. Andrew Shubin is a dedicated college student criminal defense attorney with experience in disciplinary hearing representation.

“A person 21 years of age or older who has been convicted of a violation of § 6308 (purchase, consumption, possession or transportation of liquor or malt or brewed beverages) petitions the court of common pleas in the county where the conviction occurred seeking expungement and the person has satisfied all terms and conditions of the sentence imposed for the violation, including any suspension of operating privileges imposed pursuant to § 6310.4 (restriction of operating privileges).  Upon review of the petition, the court shall order the expungement of all criminal history record information and all administrative records of the Department of Transportation to said conviction.”

Some other exceptions to expungement include the following:

  • A person who is 70 years of age and has been free of arrest or prosecution for ten years following final release from confinement or supervision
  • Someone who has been the subject of the information has been dead for three years
  • Sexual Crimes Against Minors Will Never Be Expunged. Under Pennsylvania law, “A court shall not have the authority to order expungement of the defendant’s arrest record where the defendant was placed on Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition for a violation of any offense set forth in any of the following where the victim is under 18 years of age:”
    • Section 3121 (relating to rape).
    • Section 3122.1(relating to statutory sexual assault).
    • Section 3123 (relating to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse).
    • Section 3124.1 (relating to sexual assault).
    • Section 3125 (relating to aggravated indecent assault).
    • Section 3126 (relating to indecent assault).
    • Section 3127(relating to indecent exposure).
    • Section 5902(b) (relating to prostitution and related offenses).
    • Section 5903 (relating to obscene and other sexual materials and performances

Steps to get a Crime Expunged from a Criminal Record in Pennsylvania

Background Check

After determining one’s eligibility for expungement, a background check from the Pennsylvania State Police must be ordered. A petitioner has 60 days from the time their petition with the court is filed to complete this task. A background check is one of the necessary documents required for an expungement petition to be deemed efficient. At Shubin Law, our administrative staff orders the background check at the time our client signs their petition and pays the filing fees to ensure the background check is completed in a timely manner.

Filing Pleadings with the Court

In order to carry out the expungement of an eligible charge, one must file a petition for expungement in the county where the case occurred. Each charge requires its own completed petition to be filed. For example, if you have three different charges on your record that have each been deemed eligible for expungement, then a petition corresponding to each case’s docket number, will be filed-resulting in three separate expungement petitions. The proper pleadings in the final expungement product include the petition itself, the proposed order, a verification form, the Pennsylvania Background check and any additional required documentation.

Two types of petitions exist: a “790” expungement and a “490” expungement. For cases pertaining to a felony or misdemeanor or cases that involve both summary offenses and any felonies or misdemeanors, a “790” petition is prepared. For cases that only involve summary offenses, a “490” petition is prepared. Another important document attached with the petition, is the proposed order which is presented to the judge for his signature and approval for the expungement to move forward. Once approved by the judge, the seal of the clerk of court of the Pennsylvania county in which the expungement is sought will be placed on the order. At Shubin Law, we handle all filing responsibilities regarding expungement pleadings and processes in order to make it as simple as possible for our clients. Our clients are only required to sign the proper documentation and pay the corresponding filing fees.

Paying Filing Fees

Filing fees vary depending on the county in which you are filing the expungement petition and also by the number of charges a petitioner is seeking to expunge. At Shubin Law, expungement fees are usually included in our client’s initial retainer fee. However, court filing fees are not included and are required to be paid by the client at the time of signing the expungement petition to be filed.

District Attorney’s Office

Once the petition is filed, the county’s District Attorney’s office is served on the petitioner’s behalf. The District Attorney’s office will review all necessary documentation and either accept or reject the expungement. They can also request a hearing before a judge to determine whether the request should be granted. However, usually grounds for objection fall under the following categories:

  • Defective Pleadings: a mistake was made in the filing process. If this is the case, the pleadings can be amended and sent back for re-evaluation.
  • A background check of the petitioner is not filed in time with the petition
  • A charge is non-eligible

Distribution of the Expungement Order

Once the District Attorney’s office decides whether or not to approve the expungement, the petitioner or the petitioner’s attorney/filer, will be notified of the decision. At Shubin Law, we notify our clients of their status. If accepted, the clerk of courts in the Pennsylvania county where the expungement was filed will begin dispersing the expungement orders to all necessary law enforcement, court, and government agencies as well as any other agencies included in the expungement petition. The Pennsylvania State Police receives a copy in all cases.

Pennsylvania Expungement Lawyers Offering Free Consultations

If you were charged with a crime and are seeking to get it expunged from your criminal record, contact criminal defense attorney Andrew Shubin today. Our law offices offer free and confidential consultations with clients to pursue your legal options.



  • http://www.pabar.org/pdf/expungement10042016.pdf
  • https://www.josephlento.com/how-does-the-expungement-process-work-in-pennsylvania
  • https://statelaws.findlaw.com/pennsylvania-law/how-to-expunge-a-criminal-record-in-philadelphia.html
  • http://www.clearupmyrecord.com/pennsylvania-expungement-law.php

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.